Deciding to have a baby is a momentous occasion. While a surprise pregnancy or unplanned one isn't doomed, preparing yourself and your body before conceiving can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. As soon as you decide that a little one is in your future, there are certain things you'll want to do as well as certain things you might want to stop doing.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor. He'll check your overall health, as well as ask questions regarding any conditions you might have and health conditions that run in your family. If you're on medications, he can ensure that it's safe to take them during pregnancy. He can also check your immunization records to make sure you're up to date.
Visit your dentist. As a precautionary measure, your dentist will likely advise you to avoid dental treatments during the first trimester and second half of the third trimester. Your dentist will also want to check you for signs of gum disease, as infected gums can harbor bacteria that can enter you bloodstream and travel to the uterus, triggering the production of prostaglandins, which some research indicates can result in early labor, according to Dr. J.C. Standlee of Westside Dental Practices. It's also essential to take good care of your teeth and gums while pregnant.
Take a prenatal vitamin that includes 400 micrograms of folic acid. Conception occurs about two weeks after your period, which means you might be pregnant for a few weeks before you actually take a pregnancy test. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. These defects develop very early in the pregnancy, so you shouldn't wait until a pregnancy test confirms your pregnancy to start taking this vitamin. A prenatal vitamin is also packed with other nutrients crucial for a healthy pregnancy, like iron and calcium.
Overhaul your diet. The best way to control weight gain and promote adequate development during gestation is to eat a variety of healthy foods from each food group. Being overweight can increase the risk of problems during pregnancy and a junk food diet won't give you or your baby the nutrients you need. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and limit soda, candy, fast food, fried food, frozen dinners and packaged desserts.
Quit smoking, drinking and using drugs. These substances can cause low birth weight, miscarriages, birth defects and put your child at risk for SIDS. They can also result in learning problems, mental health issues, and slow growth and development in your little one. Abstaining before you get pregnant is the best way to ensure that your baby isn't exposed to them.
Exercise regularly. This can help you get to a healthy weight before you conceive a baby, but being physically fit can also make pregnancy easier. Don't overdo it though, because too much exercise can make it harder to get pregnant. Walking is an ideal form of exercise before and during pregnancy.
Avoid foods that are dangerous during pregnancy. The FDA provides a list of foods that are unsafe when you're pregnant. Since you won't know you're pregnant right away, it's important to stay away these foods, which include fish high in mercury, soft cheeses, undercooked eggs and meat, and unpasteurized milk or foods that contain unpasteurized milk, as as soon as you decide to try to conceive. Limit caffeine as well.
Monitor your ovulation cycle. Knowing when you're ovulating makes it much more likely that you'll conceive quickly. Ovulation prediction kits are ideal, but many women simply time it right. In general, you ovulate about two weeks after the first day of your period.