Planning to start a family is the beginning of a hugely exciting new stage of life. From the moment you start trying to conceive, you can prepare for a healthy and happy pregnancy. Here’s how:
Check health problems: Book a visit to the doctor if you have health issues like being overweight, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, depression, eating disorders or asthma. Ask how pregnancy may affect or be affected by these health problems.
Quit smoking and drinking: Conception can be unpredictable, and many women are unaware of their pregnancy until well into the first trimester. To ensure the foetus is protected from the damaging effects of alcohol and smoking, it’s best to cut these habits now.
Eat a balanced diet: A healthy diet is critical in creating the ideal environment for foetal growth and development. You need the right balance of proteins (fish, meat and eggs), carbs (potato, rice, pasta), fats (olive oil, nuts and seeds), and a wide variety of vegetables and fruits.
Add folic acid: Folic acid is a form of folate, a B vitamin which helps prevent serious birth defects. Taking folic acid before you fall pregnant, and during the first trimester, helps prevent serious birth defects.
The recommended dose is 400 micrograms a day, which you can get in a supplement or multivitamin, as well as eating a healthy diet including good sources of folate such as green leafy vegetables, oranges, beans and fortified breads and cereals
Be careful of medications: Some medicines are contraindicated or not proven safe in pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, and check that any medications you are currently on, or that they might prescribe, are safe.
Avoid toxic substances: Harmful substances and environmental toxins and contaminants like fertilizer or insect spray, or cat or rodent faeces, can cause infection.
Book a dental check: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect your gums and teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Get your teeth in tip-top shape and keep up good brushing and flossing habits throughout your pregnancy.
Exercise: Prepare your body for a fit and healthy pregnancy by getting 30 minutes a day of moderate activity, like brisk walking. This will help circulation, strengthen muscles and decrease stress, benefitting mother and baby.
Pregnancy can be taxing on a woman’s body, so it makes good sense to make sure you’re in tip top good health before beginning this exciting, nine-month journey. Good luck!
Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for medical advice. Please check with your doctor before taking any supplements or embarking on an exercise routine.