Checklist for Pregnancy Preparation

You’ve decided to have a baby. You are emotionally and economically ready for the challenges. If you’ve had the luxury to plan your pregnancy, then go through the pregnancy checklist just to make sure all is well.

Are you financially and emotionally stable?

Becoming a parent is one of the most joyous moment in anyone’s life but being well prepared for it both economically and emotionally is even more important.

Pregnancy can be a very challenging phase of life and knowing that you are well prepared for the challenges ahead can add the extra joy.

It is best to decide about starting or expanding a family when you and your partner are emotionally and financially able to do so.

A child needs love, care and a secure family to grow up in and there is not much point in having a baby when you and your partner are having problems with your own relationship.

When you both feel you are ready, of course its the right time to go ahead and start trying. Having a baby at the right time can be the most rewarding experience of your lifetime.

Are you financially and emotionally stable?
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Re-visit your past

If your pregnancy was unplanned, you may not have had a chance of looking back at your past but if you have the luxury of planning a pregnancy, a visit into your past can be very beneficial.

You may not be able to change anything that has happened already but you can ensure that what happens now helps you give the best possible start to your baby.

Did you miscarry in your last pregnancy?

Having a miscarriage can be a very traumatic experience. If your previous pregnancy ended in one, you may feel that you’re not emotionally ready for your next baby for quite some time.

All this is quite natural and you don’t need to feel that you are thinking or feeling differently.

On the other hand, if you do feel up to it, the decision of planning another baby straightaway is yours and you don’t have to wait for your next baby just because you had a miscarriage in the last one and everyone around you expects you to wait for a while.

Once you have your next period, you can start planning.However, sometimes the doctor may suggest that you wait for three normal menstrual cycles before trying again.

Go with the doctor’s advice and remember one thing : If you’ve had a miscarriage once, it does not mean that you will not have a successful pregnancy this time around.

You may have to wait, however, if you have a history of miscarriages.

Do you have a history of miscarriages?

If you are unable to carry a pregnancy to full term everytime and have a history of miscarriages in your pregnancy record, it is important that you consult a doctor before planning another pregnancy.

Miscarriages, one after another may be due to several reasons, most of which can be treated.

Get prompt medical advice so that the doctor can perform tests and identify the source of the string of miscarriages.

There is little point in trying to conceive before the results of your tests are back. Once the problem has been identified, you can be treated accordingly, if need be.

Start trying to conceive again on the doctor’s advice and hopefully, you will have a successful pregnancy this time.

Re-visit your past
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Was your previous baby delivered by a caesarean section?

Caesarean, also called C-section is the delivery of a baby through an incision in the abdomen.

Theoretically, a Caesarean requires more post-operative care as compared to a normal, vaginal delivery.

Because caesarean delivery involves abdominal surgery, your stitches and discomfort may take some time to heal. You may just not feel up to planning another pregnancy till the time you have recovered completely (this applies to all traumatic non-caesarean deliveries as well).

Most women feel that if they’ve had a Caesarean once,they will have to have a Caesarean again. This is not true. You have all the same chances of having a normal vaginal delivery like everyone else.

Inherited Diseases

Most couples feel that if they’re disease-free and healthy, all is well and their children are guaranteed to be born healthy. Although most babies are born healthy and disease-free, all expectant couples must know that certain diseases like haemophilia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia are inherited.

It is not necessary that if you or your partner don’t suffer from any inherited disease, your child will not be affected. You may even be a carrier of the disease without knowing it.

This means that you may not suffer from the actual disease but could very well pass it on to your baby.

If such is the case, you must consult a doctor before trying to conceive. Your doctor may refer you to a genetic counsellor who can give you more advice on the issue.

Have you been trying for a baby with no success?

Making love at the right time of the month, month after month and still no success?

Ideally, its time to see a doctor if you’ve been trying for a baby religiously for a year and have had no success.

Much of the hesitation is due to the fact that most couples don’t know much about infertility and whatever little they do know, is so specialised and complicated that it makes it sound all the more scary.

What each of us needs to remember is that ignoring a possible problem will not make it go away. The sooner your problem is identified, the sooner your (or your partner’s) treatment can be started. You can still have a happy ending…

Eat a well-balanced diet

Women ignore healthy eating and lifestyle advice before a pregnancy, even when it is planned, a study shows.

What you eat now goes a long way in benefiting your baby. Therefore, it is important to eat a well-balanced and healthy diet even before you get pregnant because what you eat now will be used for your baby’s early development when all major organs are formed.

Your preconception diet must include reasonable amounts of carbohydrates, protein, fat, minerals and vitamins and remember that this is not the time for losing weight. Eat a nutritious diet which will be beneficial for both you and your baby and your family will benefit in the years to come as it becomes a way of life! Healthy parents produce healthy babies.

Eat a well-balanced diet
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Keep up your intake of folic acid in the form of folic acid supplements and folic acid rich foods.

By taking maximum care of your health in the months before your new baby is even conceived, you can optimise the chances of having a healthy baby.

See Take a good look at your lifestyle and health before planning a pregnancy.

Start taking folic acid supplements

Folic acid is extremely important for the healthy development of your baby, especially in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is known to reduce the risk of a neural tube defect called spina bifida. Your baby can be affected by this defect even before you realise you are pregnant. This is why it is important to start taking folic acid supplements as soon as you come off any form of contraception and start trying for a baby.

However, if your pregnancy was unplanned and you did not take folic acid before conception, you must start taking folic acid as soon as you discover that you are pregnant and continue taking it for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Folic acid sources

Foods with high folic acid content include green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and spring greens), peas, brussel sprouts, chick peas, broccoli, fortified breakfast cereals and brown rice. Wholemeal bread is also a good source of folic acid.

Overcooking vegetables destroys the folic acid and hence steaming is a gentler way to cook than boil.

Liver is a great source of folic acid, but is not a good idea when pregnant or planning a pregnancy. This is because it also contains high levels of vitamin A, which may harm your baby.

Start taking folic acid supplements
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How much is enough?

As per NHS online, a daily supplement of 400 micrograms should be taken before becoming pregnant and then until the 12th week of pregnancy.

You may ask your doctor to prescribe folic acid for you or you can discuss with the pharmacist and purchase it over the counter.

Although folic acid is contained in a variety of foodstuffs, overcooking green vegetables etc. destroys the vitamin. Therefore, eating a folic acid enriched diet is beneficial but not enough on its own, which is why folic acid supplements are advised strongly.

Come off any form of contraception

It is important to note that every woman’s body is different and hence, what works for one woman may not necessarily work for another.

The following guidelines are very basic and may or may not be suitable for you. Consult your doctor, if in doubt.

  • Condom: You can stop using a condom and start trying to conceive straightaway.
  • Diaphragm: Working on the same principle as a condom, it is safe to conceive after removing it.
  • Pill: It is advised to wait for three normal menstrual cycles before you start trying. This helps to flush out the synthetic hormones from the body. Also, it helps to date your pregnancy accurately. Use a condom or diaphragm in the meantime.
  • Coil: Get the coil removed and you can start trying straightaway.
  • Injection: Wait for three normal menstrual cycles before trying. Use condom or diaphragm in the meantime.
  • Spermicides: You can stop using spermicides and start trying to conceive straightaway.

Determine your most fertile time

The time when an egg is produced from your ovary is called OVULATION. This is normally in the middle of your monthly cycle (around day 14 if you have a 28 day cycle).

Your egg will live for about 12-24 hours after ovulation. If conception is to take place it must be fertilised by your partner’s sperm in your body within this time. Sperm can live for several days inside your body. If you make love a day or so before ovulation, your partner’s sperm will have time to travel up the fallopian tubes and will be waiting when your egg is released.

So the chances are highest if you make love on the day before ovulation.

MAKE LOVE ON YOUR FERTILE DAYS AND … KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED!!

It is ideal if you start preparing about three months before you plan to conceive. Look after yourselves for a healthy conception, healthy pregnancy, healthy baby and a happy and healthy you!

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