Are you hoping to have a baby someday? The best thing you can do for your future baby is to plan ahead.
To plan your pregnancy, you must begin thinking about what it means to have a baby and make decisions with your partner about your future family. Do you want to wait a while or are you ready to be parents now? Have you thought through how you’ll handle childcare responsibilities and balancing work and family? Planning for this life change can make things easier for you and your partner as you start your family.
The healthier you are as you are planning your pregnancy, the more likely you are to have a healthy baby. We recommend you start planning for pregnancy as soon as you begin to think about having a baby.
There are many benefits to planning your pregnancy. Planning ahead may help you to:
- conceive more easily
- have a healthier pregnancy
- avoid or minimize pregnancy complications
- give birth to a healthier baby
- recover more quickly and easily after giving birth
- have a more pleasant postpartum experience
- minimize your child’s risk of future adult health problems
Getting your body ready for pregnancy can take a few months or even longer. Whether this is your first or fourth baby, the following steps are important to help you get ready for a healthy pregnancy.
1. Make a Plan and Take Action
What are you goals for having children? Write them down and take action to achieve your goals.
2. See Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor about preconception health. Your doctor will dig into your health history and any medical conditions that could affect a pregnancy. They may recommend vaccinations and steps you can take before pregnancy to prevent birth defects.
3. Take Pre-Natal Vitamins
Take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. If a woman has enough b vitamin, folic acid, in her body at least 1 month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.
4. Stop Drinking Alcohol, Smoking, and Using Drugs
Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs can cause many problems during pregnancy for a woman and her baby, such as premature birth, birth defects and infant death.
5. Avoid Toxic Substances and Environmental Contaminants
Several harmful materials to avoid are synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces. These substances can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women, and can make it more difficult to get pregnant.
6. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of complications during pregnancy, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Women who are underweight are also at risk for serious health problems.
7. Budget for Your Baby
Do you have enough money to pay for things, like child care and diapers? Do you have health insurance that helps pay for medical care? It’s never too early to start thinking about taking out life insurance, making a will and saving for your child’s college education.
8. Learn Your Family History
Collecting your family’s health history can be important for your child’s health. Share this information with your doctor to ensure you are prepared for any medical conditions your child may have.
9. Get Mentally Healthy
If your worries, feelings of anxiety or stress do not go away be sure to talk with your doctor or another health professional about treatment options.
10. Have a Healthy Pregnancy
Once you are pregnant, be sure to keep up with all of your new healthy habits and visit your doctor regularly throughout your pregnancy for prenatal care.
By planning your pregnancy, you will know that during this important early stage you were taking the best possible care of yourself and your baby.
If you are pregnant or ready to talk to a doctor about preconception health, call Greenville Women’s Clinic at 252-757-3131 to make an appointment.