The couples who are planning for a pregnancy go through feelings of excitement, in addition to anxiety and nervousness, at the same time. If pregnancy does not happen, the couple should visit a doctor and check out if there is any fertility problem in any of the partners. It is also important to get the family and personal health history sorted out. Planning a pregnancy and taking necessary precautions can prevent many avoidable complications.
Pregnancy does not happen immediately when the couple wishes for a baby. At times, the couple may have to wait for months or even years. The waiting period can be utilized by the woman to get her thoroughly evaluated by a good medical practitioner, as well as to get right preconception care for a healthy pregnancy.
For a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, different factors should be considered during the planning stage:
Age – Twenties is the best
Twenties is considered to be the optimal time for a woman to get pregnant, as she is at her prime during this period, with fully developed, energetic, young and healthy body. As the mother ages, the risk of developing complications and giving birth to a baby with abnormalities (like Down’s syndrome) also increases.
Birth Control – Gap after certain contraceptives
It is important to have a minimum of 2 normal cycles of menstruation after stopping the contraceptive pills or IUD before trying for conception. This can be done by abstinence or by using safe methods like diaphragm or condoms.
Health Problems – Test and immunization
Health problems of the parents are likely to affect the baby in future, like diabetes, high blood pressure and certain other infections. Intake of folic acid supplements helps in prevention of neural tube defects. Consulting a genetic counselor will help in arranging tests for genetic diseases.
Rubella and Chickenpox can do much harm to the baby if the pregnant woman gets them; therefore precaution against these is necessary. There should be a gap of at least 6 months after immunization and conception.
Diet – Dad’s diet too matters
Eating a well balanced diet when planning for a pregnancy will prepare the mother to meet the needs of the growing baby by storing adequate amounts of nutrients. One of the factors that escapes most of the people is that the health and diet of the father is also going to affect the baby. Low level of zinc and mineral selenium affect fertility in males; therefore it is important to keep watch on these and take supplements whenever necessary. Including meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, mushroom, whole grains and other nutritious food will help the parents maintain good health for reducing the risk to the baby.
Weight – Aim for the optimum
Overweight and low weight, both can affect fertility in a woman. It is necessary to achieve an ideal weight through proper diet and exercise before planning for a pregnancy. Obesity can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes, and create complications in pregnancy. Trying to lose weight during pregnancy is not healthy. Therefore, achieving an ideal weight before conception is best for both, the mother and the baby.
Lifestyle – Switch over to healthy habits
Healthy lifestyle followed by the parents is not only important before and during pregnancy, but throughout the time the baby will be spending with the parents. Alcohol, smoking, improper diet and sedentary lifestyle will affect the physical and emotional health of the baby. People who are planning on being parents should take necessary steps to adopt a healthy lifestyle so that the baby will have good environment to grow.