Deciding to become a parent is a major commitment –not to mention the nine months of pregnancy before you deliver your child into the world. Before you and your partner try to conceive, there are many things you need to know to ensure that you are prepared physically, emotionally, and financially.
Here are 12 of the most important factors to consider prior to embarking on this life-altering journey:
Have a pre-pregnancy parenting talk with your significant other about key parenting issues, such as:
This will depend on the type of birth control you’re using. If you’re on the pill or other hormonal contraception (patch, ring, implant, shot, IUD), plan on stopping a couple of months ahead of when you plan to start trying for a baby. This will allow you to know your natural menstrual cycle and know when you’re ovulating. In any case, consult your doctor.
Excess alcohol intake can interfere with fertility and lower sperm count, so you and your partner should refrain from imbibing as much as possible. Also, smoking can affect egg and sperm quality and increase the risk of congenital disorders, miscarriage, preterm labor, and other conditions once you become pregnant. It goes without saying that you should also avoid recreational drugs during pregnancy.
Studies show that excessive amounts of caffeine – whether from coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and certain pain medications – can increase the risk of miscarriage. To know how much caffeine is in your pre-pregnancy diet, read product labels and scale back accordingly.
Being overweight or underweight can have an adverse effect on your fertility and increase the risk of complications during your pregnancy. To help maintain a normal weight for your body size, consider starting an exercise regimen, whether it’s a Pilates class or just walking several times per week. In addition, talk to your doctor about the healthy foods you should eat to ensure your baby is as healthy as you are.
If you’re thinking of getting pregnant within the next three to six months, start taking a daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid. Studies show that this B vitamin taken in pre-and early pregnancy can reduce brain and spine birth defects by as much as 70 percent. Plus, the iron in a multivitamin can prevent anemia, while calcium helps build strong bones and teeth.
Studies show that women who are sleep-deprived have more problems ovulating than those who are well-rested. So, make sure you are getting around eight hours of sleep every night.
High-stress levels can curtail your ability to get pregnant by affecting ovulation or interfering with an embryo’s ability to implant in your uterus. Calm yourself and maintain optimism with relaxation and mindfulness techniques, massage, meditation, yoga, keeping a journal, or whatever else works for you.
Before getting pregnant, decide whether you need to move for more space or a better location, or whether you’ll be perfectly happy where you are now.
You will need to have been working for an employer for at least 12 months to qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which provides for 12 weeks of unpaid maternity or paternity leave. Also consider whether your hours are reasonable, if you can handle the commute to your job, and if there is enough flexibility for childcare once your baby arrives.
Getting your teeth and gums checked before pregnancy is a surprising yet key part of fertility. Women with gum disease may be more prone to preeclampsia, premature birth, and having a low-birth-weight baby. Also, X-rays should be avoided during pregnancy, so it is better to have your teeth examined for dental problems before you plan to try for a baby.
Finally, you should have a pre-pregnancy check-up at least three months before you plan to start trying for a baby. Your healthcare provider will make sure you’re current on vaccinations, check for any sexually transmitted infections (STIs), test for heart-related issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol, and monitor any chronic conditions you may have. This is also a good time to raise any questions you have about getting pregnant and ensure you aren’t taking any medications that may affect your fertility or may be unsafe to take during pregnancy.
If you are thinking about getting pregnant or have concerns about fertility, contact the OB-GYNs at Dekalb Women’s Specialists in Decatur, Stonecrest, and Stone Mountain, Georgia. We can provide the expert obstetrical care and compassionate support you need before, during, and after the birth of your child.
For more pre-pregnancy information or to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified obstetricians, call our main phone at (404) 508-2000 or use our convenient online request form. We look forward to serving you and your bundle of joy!