10 things to do before you conceive
So you've decided you want to have a baby? We know you can't wait to get pregnant. Here are some tips about conceiving a baby that you must read.
1. Go off birth control
Yeah, that's a no-brainer! If you are taking birth control pills, stop them, because it will take a month or two for your body to regain its regular menstrual cycle, and this will help you zero in on the days on which you are most fertile, and you can plan conception accordingly.
2. Take folic acid
Adequate folic acid in the body is known to prevent a lot of birth defects like spina bifida. Taking 400 mg of folic acid per day (consult your doctor of course) every day for at least a month or two before conception would be good (And you can continue after conception!). Multivitamin tablets with the required quantity of folic acid are also fine, but take care that these don't contain too much Vitamin A, as it can hamper the development of the baby.
3. Lay off alcohol and smoking
Both you and your partner must reduce your alcohol intake, and stop smoking in case you do either or both. A glass of wine now and then won't hurt before you conceive, but make sure to stop completely after you get pregnant. Smoking and alcohol-intake are directly related to birth defects and behavioural problems in the child. It is good to reduce caffeine intake too. Tough, but look at it in the long term!
4. Start a healthy diet
So you like eating out often but now is the time to keep a strict check on it. Stop consuming junk food, colas, and excess sugar. Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of fluids. Eat a good quantity of protein and nuts every day. Be careful about seafood – it might contain mercury. Avoid under cooked meat and eggs too. Consult a dietitian if need be, and get your body the nutrition it needs!
5. Get to the right weight
If you are overweight or obese, now is the time to shed a few kilos. Excess weight leads to several health problems, and can even affect fertility. If you are too skinny, exercise and a good diet will help you become fit and healthy, and make you strong enough to bear a healthy child.
A regular exercise or yoga regime does wonders for your body. It makes you flexible and increases the amount of oxygen in your body, making you generally healthier (and makes you look and feel better too!) If you have never exercised before, ease into a routine with the advice of your doctor.
7. Get tested
Sitting in a lab all day getting jabbed by needles isn't very pleasant, but a host of pregnancy complications can be avoided just by getting yourself tested before you conceive. Your doctor would know the tests to be conducted; generally women get tested for anemia, thyroid imbalances, diabetes and cholesterol. Other check-ups may include a pelvic exam, an ultrasound and a pap smear to rule out any problems. Make sure that your partner is tested too, to rule out chronic conditions or any underlying health problems that affect fertility.
8. Take a re-look at your work environment
Your work might involve exposure to radiation, X-ray or chemicals. You might be a health worker who comes in contact with patients with diseases like Hepatitis B regularly. Or perhaps you work with animals, and could be susceptible to diseases that animals transmit to humans. Or your job might just be too stressful. All these are in some way, directly or indirectly, harmful to a fetus. So you need to sit back and re-think your situation, and make changes right away, so that you have things sorted out by the time you do get pregnant.
9. Check your medication
There are some medicines that are not suitable for pregnant women. Check with your doctor and discontinue or change the medication on her / his advice.
10. Visit the doctor
Decide on a good ob-gyn, visit her / him and ask any questions that you might have about conception, pregnancy, health, lifestyle, and get a clear bill of health!
And lastly, let your hair down, kick back, and do all those things that you won't be able to do once you get pregnant!
Also read more about: How To Prepare Your Body Before You Conceive?