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Pre-Pregnancy | Planning For a Baby

Your Essential Pre-Conception Planning Checklist

Positive lifestyle changes as long as six months before conception can be very beneficial to your pregnancy, which means that where possible pre-conception planning is a must. The first four to eight weeks is the most important time during pregnancy, as this is when the foetus’ organs are being formed. Don’t wait until you’re pregnant before you stop smoking, drinking and taking prescribed medicine, or start adding supplements to your diet. Having said that, life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan it! For many falling pregnant is not a planned event, but things miraculously turn out well anyway. If you are planning to fall pregnant, however, getting ready begins way before doing the wild monkey dance!

ready-for-baby-couple

Stable relationship
It’s important for both partners to be happy with the decision. Do you both agree that now is a good time to try for a baby? Contrary to what many women believe, a baby cannot save a relationship – it can actually have quite the opposite effect. The most desirable condition will be for you to be happy together, stable and ready for change.

Medical check-up
Make an appointment with your gynaecologist for a medical check-up. Once he gives you the go-ahead, make sure you discuss all the do’s and don’ts with him. If you have diabetes, for example, your gynae should be made aware of the medication you’re taking. It’s also a good idea to ask whether you should get any vaccinations before your fall pregnant, as well as going for a dental check-up – as you’re not allowed to have serious dental treatments while pregnant.

Healthy eating habits
Healthy eating habits start way before you fall pregnant, so best you get used to dodging the chocolates and coffee and start reaching for the good stuff instead. Foods to avoid include refined products, caffeine, too much animal fat and salt. Beneficial foods include avocados, raw nuts and seeds, olives, sweet corn, raw fruit and veggies, potatoes, brown rice, grains etc. If you struggle to take in dairy foods, you can eat other foods high in calcium - such as spinach, broccoli and nuts. Good sources of iron are liver, red meat, hummus, lentils, pumpkin seeds, nuts and leafy veggies. Keep in mind, however, that this is not the time to punish your body by means of a diet or a low calorie intake. If you keep your baby’s health top priority, you will automatically make good food choices. It’s all about balance.

Supplements
Even if you’re making healthy food choices, you also need to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals. Discuss your prenatal vitamin needs with your gynaecologist during your medical check-up. You should definitely take Folic Acid while trying to fall pregnant; also found in citrus, dark green veggies, beans and berries.

Exercise
If you’re already following a exercise routine, keep it up. If you’re more of a couch potato, swap the couch for the outdoors and start walking, cycling or swimming. Perhaps you find it easier to join a gym? Whatever your preference, it’s better to get active before you fall pregnant, as it will improve the quality of your pregnancy and result in an easier birth. Discuss pregnancy and exercise with your gynae during your medical check-up. Also keep in mind that stress can have an effect on your chances of falling pregnant as it’s known to cause infertility problems. A good exercise routine, such as a Pilates class at the end of every day, might just be what the doctor ordered. It will help you relieve stress and make you feel on top of the world.

Prepare your body for pregnancy
A great way of preparing your body for pregnancy is to rid it of all the bad stuff , such as stress, pollution, bad eating habits etc. If you are smoking and/or drinking, now is a good time to stop. Eat a lot of fruit and raw veggies, drink at least two litres of water a day and exercise regularly.

Last but not least, let’s take a look at a general pre-conception checklist.

  • Weight: If you are very underweight or overweight it can cause birth defects.
  • Smoking: Smoking is associated with low birth weight, premature births and sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Alcohol: Researchers have not been able to determine a safe level of alcohol intake, therefore it’s better to avoid it altogether while trying to conceive, being pregnant and while breastfeeding.
  • Prescribed medications: Discuss this with your gynae as some medications might have to be stopped or changed.
  • Genes: Share your medical history with your gynae so that he can be prepared for any condition that might pipe up.

We can’t always choose our circumstances. Sometimes we just have to do the best with what we’ve got, and know that our best is more than enough. If you are in a position where it’s possible to plan your pregnancy, you are extremely fortunate as you can really give your child the best start in life. This is the time to take stock, make lifestyle changes and embrace the good life. Happy planning!

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