Preparing for pregnancy is not easy, considering the responsibilities that comes along with it. A woman needs to take extra care about everything right from maintaining her health and diet, to incorporating healthy habits during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is the time when every woman goes through several physical and emotional changes. From the size of her belly to the constant hormonal fluctuations, a female’s body experiences many biological shifts. .
The physical strain of carrying extra body weight is scary because weight has always been such a soft topic for women. As a pregnant woman, expect to spend money on new bras and clothes that will fit your now heavier self. You will experience swollen ankles and gasping for breath after climbing a few stairs. Though it’s a natural change, it is never too late to make lifestyle changes that will improve your health during pregnancy.
To mentally prepare yourself for the changes that you’re about to experience, here are few pre-pregnancy tips just for you!
Schedule a Prenatal Check-up
During pregnancy obgyn is your best friend, so schedule an appointment to get your personal medical history, family medical history, any medications or supplements reviewed. Usage of certain supplements or medications will be called off in case it affects your pregnancy.
Throughout your pregnancy you will be under the care and observation of these specialists who will assist you in controlling any medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure, provided you have any.
Preconception Genetic Testing
It is a known fact that practitioners ask for genetic carrier screening test for which they require your saliva or blood sample. This test is conducted with the intention to find out whether you or your partner is a carrier of any serious genetic condition, such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and more. This test is an essential step considering that every one-in-four child can inherit the condition if you are carrying any acquired genetic disorders. Do not break sweat worrying about the expenses because most health insurances cover these tests.
Say No To Alcohol, Smoking, and Drugs
Now we all know that substance dependency is bad for health, especially when you are pregnant. It is advised that you give up on smoking, drinking or drug intake. It is suggested that you quit them now because tobacco and drugs can lead to premature birth, miscarriage, or low birth weight in babies.
Many drugs remain in blood stream even after the effects wear off, which is why you must steer clear of them. Even when couples are trying to conceive, men must avoid smoking as it reduces the volume of semen and gives low sperm count. Women who are expecting are advised to keep their distance from smokers because passive or second-hand smoking could also affect your ability to conceive. Moderate or binge drinking is a big NO.
Stay Clear Of Infections
It might seem like an unavoidable task, but we ensure you that by following some basic practices you can prevent infections. Doctors always insist on washing hands every now and then. During pregnancy you must diligently follow this and make it a point to wash your hands often when cooking. Keep a check on the temperature of the refrigerator and ensure that you have it set to 2 to 4ºC (35 to 40ºF) and the freezer temperature to -18ºC (below 0ºF).
When pregnant, following a proper, healthy and balanced diet becomes extremely important. Along with this expecting mothers should also be conscious of the food items that they have to avoid. Raw or undercooked poultry and fish, unpasteurised cheese, and other dairy and cold deli meats are strictly prohibited. It is best to not consume these food items because they can carry harmful bacteria that can cause Listeriosis. It is a food borne bacterial illness that can be very serious for pregnant women resulting in risk of stillbirth and miscarriage. Listeria infection is most commonly contracted by the consumption of processed deli meats and unpasteurised milk products.
For many, caffeine is like a drug that one cannot live without, but experts say women planning to get pregnant should avoid or reduce caffeine intake. Break up with the caffeine addiction, as studies show that excessive intake can lead to decreased fertility.
To avoid infections, such as toxoplasmosis wear gloves while gardening or changing litter box. Also, to prevent diseases, such as pneumonia, you must take a flu shot beforehand. These are few basic steps to keep infections at bay.
Focus On Your Mental Health
With so much happening with your body during pregnancy, it is safe to say that you are most vulnerable during this phase. One needs to be happy and in a good state of mind and or else it affects your overall health which might be risky. Despite it being natural for your emotions to be heightened, you need to keep it in check and not let it control you. Put an end to the constant negative or depressive thoughts by talking it out with your loved ones. If talking about stress with your family or partner makes you uncomfortable seek professional coaching and discuss your feelings and worries. Stress is an everyday mental issue faced by almost everyone; yoga and meditation can also help beat it.
Get An Exercise Regime
Fitness plan is a must! Following a fitness routine will help you stay healthy and focused. It is not only a great stress buster, but also prepares your body for the changes it is about to experience and makes it easier.
If you are used to weight training we suggest that you incorporate exercise routine such as yoga, aerobics, or swimming, as it increases your flexibility. If the exercise routines mentioned above seem a bit too much for you, then consider walking for at least 30 minutes every day. Keep yourself physically active by making tiny efforts such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or elevator.
Improve your nutrition intake and stock up your body with nutrients which are essential for a healthy pregnancy. A well-balanced diet makes your body strong and prepares you for labour.
Nutritional menu must include consumption of more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose whole milk and include a serving of yogurt every day. Switch to natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar instead of sugar.
It is recommended that you physically and mentally prepare yourself before you decide to start a family. The hormonal changes itself are enough to have you on edge, with your emotions doing their bit to overwhelm you. Improve your knowledge on pregnancy by reading more books and talking to your doctor about any doubts you may have.