So, you want to have a baby. Congratulations on making this life-changing decision! How can you use the preconception time period to prepare physically and mentally? While some get pregnant easily, and others take a little more time, and some are even surprised by the news, there are things every woman can do to prepare her body and mind for potential pregnancy.
If you’re hoping to get pregnant, or even “not preventing,” there are some things you should do. The first step should always be to get real with yourself and your partner. If you are passively trying or “forgetting” to use birth control, you could be pregnant RIGHT NOW as you read this. Starting a pregnancy without be honest with yourself and your partner isn’t the best way to start a family. And, your body is the place where the baby will grow and get nourished, you need to be acting like a fetus could be in there if you are having unprotected sex so that the baby’s health is protected from the get-go. NEXT, get the go-ahead from your care provider or gynecologist, especially if you have any health problems. Be sure to ask about any prescription medications you currently take that might pose a risk to your developing baby, such as painkillers or antidepressants. If you’re actively taking hormonal birth control, it’s time to stop and ideally use other forms of contraceptive for a month or two to allow your body to regain its natural rhythm.*
If you have had losses or infertility issues in the past, your doctor can educate you about choices to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Be sure to ask lots of questions about the risks and benefits of any intervention that is suggested.Nutritionists and holistic practitioners are also great resources for pregnancy planning. Additionally, if the emotional strain of the journey to motherhood has you feeling down, contact a support group or seek counseling.
If you use recreational drugs, or drink alcohol, stop now, and get your partner to stop, too. Beware of toxins in your home such as chemical cleaners, lead, or secondhand smoke. These substances can alter the health of sperm and harm a developing fetus even in the earliest stages.
Of course, there are things you should be doing on your own, like eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercising. Making changes now can impact many aspects of your future child’s health for years or even a lifetime. For example, dental health issues should be corrected before becoming pregnant.* Taking a high quality prenatal vitamin with a form of folate (folic acid or methylfolate) before and after conception can lessen chances of neural tube defects.
Remember, you can be pregnant for weeks before getting a positive on that pregnancy test. “Many women don’t realize they are pregnant until they miss their first menstrual period. By that time, major body systems have begun to form in the baby.”* So, if there’s any possibility, it’s best to avoid unnecessary x-rays and behave as if you are pregnant, taking all the precautions an expecting mother would take until you can rule out the presence of a tiny life growing inside.
Rose Hollo lives in the Midwest where she is a freelance writer, has a degree in Holistic Health and her Masters in Digital and Social Media Marketing. She runs her business Everything’s Rosy Digital Marketing, http://www.everythingrosy.com and cares for her family including a husband, toddler daughter, and Thai exchange student.