A healthy pregnancy begins before conception. Careful planning can help smooth the way to a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy. Having a baby can affect your current lifestyle, finances, emotional health and physical well-being. Good preparation before pregnancy will help you to provide the best possible environment for your baby’s first nine months of life. The Centers for Disease Control recommends preparing for conception at least three months before getting pregnant. If you are even thinking of beginning a family, now is the time to incorporate some healthy changes.
Get the Green Light from Your Doctor
An initial visit to your doctor can help rule out health problems before you conceive. Your doctor may want to run some tests to determine your state of health and rule out any problems. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, certain medical conditions–such as heart disease, seizures, diabetes and high blood pressure–may require special care during pregnancy.
Review Your Immunizations
Make sure your immunizations are current before you attempt to become pregnant. Immunizations can help protect you and your baby from certain illnesses and infections. Certain infections during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects and illnesses in your baby. Have your doctor review your immunization record for tetanus, measles, varicella, human papillomavirus and other vaccinations.
Regulate Your Weight
Your weight can affect your health and your baby’s health during your pregnancy. If you are overweight, now is the time to lose the excess. Too much weight can cause diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as strain your heart, according to the ACOG. Obese women have a greater chance of experiencing problems during pregnancy. Being underweight may pose a problem when it comes to conceiving and delivering an average-sized baby. Monitor your caloric intake to help you reach an ideal weight before you become pregnant.
In addition to helping you reach your desirable weight, good nutrition can help guard against birth defects and ensure you get the proper amount of nutrients. Include plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains in your daily diet. Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products to ensure adequate amounts of calcium. Consume dark-green leafy vegetables, beans and citrus fruits. These items contain folic acid, which can reduce your baby’s risk of developing neural tube defects. Ask your doctor to prescribe or recommend a multiple vitamin to take before pregnancy.
Get used to exercising before you become pregnant. Enjoy moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes every day. Walking and swimming can help prepare your body for pregnancy, as well as calm your mind and provide time for relaxation.
If you have concerns about your ability to raise a child, or your desire to become a parent, speak to a mental health counselor or therapist. Discuss any emotional issues that may affect your health or your ability to enjoy parenting. Talk to your therapist about any episodes of abuse, depression or anxiety. Discuss any doubts or concerns you think might create problems for you or your child.
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