Most women are naturally good at nesting; it is a primal urge, after all. Just as birds prepare a literal nest for their young, mothers-to-be strive to get the house and the baby’s room ready before the arrival. At no other time is the nesting urge as strong as when a woman is expecting a baby. Pregnancy planning, on the other hand, does not come quite as naturally, but it is very important for the health of the baby, according to MedicineNet.com.
What Is Pregnancy Planning?
Pregnancy planning involves working closely with your doctor by getting prenatal care. The goal is to prevent birth defects and to create a healthy environment for the fetus. Although it’s true that women have been having babies throughout the ages without pregnancy planning, pregnancy planning improves the chances of having a healthy baby.
Nutrition, Vitamins and Exercise
The fetus gets its nutrition from the mother, so it is important to eat healthy foods and to avoid foods than could be harmful. It’s best to avoid caffeine, unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, undercooked meat and cold cuts. Switch from a megavitamin, if you take one, to a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. If you get the OK from your doctor, exercise around 30 minutes a day. The best exercises are walking, swimming, yoga, using the elliptical machine and running. The worst exercises are ones that will jar the baby or ones where you could fall, such as skiing, horseback riding and playing soccer.
Alcohol and Pregnancy
Alcohol can lead to miscarriages in the first trimester. It can also cause a form of mental retardation due to fetal alcohol syndrome. Fetal alcohol syndrome also can damage developing organs. Women should plan to stop drinking alcohol while they are pregnant. The more women drink, the higher the risk of the baby being born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
Many women don’t even realize that over-the-counter medications or medicinal herbs could be bad for the baby. Even aspirin can pose a danger, according to MedicineNet.com. Women should always discuss prescription drugss and OTC medicines with their doctor before taking any. Many medications disrupt fetal growth or could cause birth defects, so planning to stop taking them before you become pregnant is important.
Women older than 35 who are pregnant have an increased risk of having a baby with chromosomal birth defects, the most common of which is Down syndrome. According to the March of Dimes, a 25-year-old has a one-in-1,250 chance of having a baby with Down syndrome. That figure jumps to a one-in-400 chance to a woman who is 35 and a one-in-10 chance to a woman who is 49. Older women can get diagnostic tests, screening tests or an amniocentesis to evaluate their risk for having a baby with a birth defect.
Men throughout the ages have gone to great lengths to conceive a boy, even so far as the 18th-century French noblemen, who would cut off their left testicle in the belief that this would guarantee a boy baby, according to MedicineNet.com. In 19th and 20th centuries, people believed that certain intercourse positions would enhance the chances of a girl or a boy. No methods, including the timing of sexual intercourse, have ever proven to work.
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