Deciding to have a baby is one of the most important decisions you and your partner will ever make. With good planning you and your spouse can ensure that you are in the best of health and are aware of any potential hazards or hereditary factors that could affect your health and that of your baby. Unfortunately, advance planning is a luxury for many women not only because of menstrual irregularities and the failure rate of contraceptives but also because of patriarchal attitudes to child bearing. However, a planned pregnancy is likely to be a more enjoyable experience if only because sufficient care and thought have gone into it.
Start planning at least 3 months before trying to conceive.
Get a thorough check up
Both you and your husband should go in for a medical checkup to catch any problems that can be corrected beforehand, or that will need monitoring during pregnancy. This is also the time for a full gynaecological check up.
Get any medical condition under control
Get your doctor’s okay and your condition under control if you have diabetes, asthma, heart disease or any other chronic illness.
Pre pregnancy is a precious time, for your actions and decisions now will lay the foundations of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Review your weight
It is best to embark on your pregnancy at as close to normal weight as possible. Being underweight or overweight could affect your own and your baby’s health. So before trying to conceive, determine your ideal pre-pregnancy weight and work towards it. Any weight loss should be achieved sensibly, without resorting to crash diets. If you have just gone through a strenuous dieting schedule, give your body a few months to recover the nutritional deficit caused by the crash diet before you try to conceive.
Review your diet
When you decide to try for conception, one of your first actions should be a review of your eating habits. Throw away the pre-packaged stuff, leave the junk food strictly alone and concentrate on the fresh and the nutritious. Ask your doctor if any supplements are necessary. Make sure that you get your quota of milk and milk products and are eating enough roughage. What you eat will help form the body of your baby.
Take a good look at your work schedule
Stress is a major obstacle to both conception and a healthy pregnancy. If your work schedule is overtiring and hectic, you need to see how you can cut it down. Sooner or later, in any case, you will be forced to do so for your own health as well as that of the baby. Better to do it out of choice than resent having to do so because of doctor’s orders.
You would also need to plan how you are going to work after the birth of the baby.
- Will you go back to work after the customary 3 months leave or would you take a longer sabbatical,
- Who would look after the baby while you are at work-your mother/mother-in-law or a maid
- Would you look for flexi-time or work-at-home-options?
These are the questions that you need to address before conceiving. You will be able to think much better now. Once you are pregnant, one doesn’t have the luxury of time or energy to ponder on these basic issues. Also after conceiving you are likely to be on an emotional roller coaster that makes rational thinking impossible!
Get a dental check up
This will help ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy during pregnancy and also help avoid the need for any x-rays while you are pregnant.
Keep track of your ovulation period
Keep a record of the first day of each menstrual period. Also try to note when you ovulate to identify your fertile period.
Ovulation generally occurs at the midpoint of the cycle- i.e. on the 14th day of a 28 days cycle.
For irregular cycles try to spot these physical signs of ovulation-
- Basal body temperature reaches its low point of the month then abruptly rises.
- Vaginal mucus becomes clear, jelly like and can be pulled into strings.
A rise in body temperature hinders ovulation-
- Don’t get overheated during workouts.
- Avoid hot baths.
- Avoid direct exposure to heating pads and electrical blankets
Evaluate the birth control method
It is not as simple a matter as stopping the use of contraceptives when you decide to conceive. You must plan, taking into account the birth control method you use. If you are on Birth control pills discontinue them several months before attempting to conceive. Allow your reproductive cycle to go through at least two normal cycles before you start making a baby. Some pills contain the hormone Progestin, which acts as a contraceptive by thickening the cervical mucus so that the sperm cannot pass through and also suppresses ovulation and changes the receptivity of the lining of the uterus. Further, the pill can affect the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals so it is important that the effect of the pill on the body is allowed to wane of before conception.
Preferably, use natural family-planning methods or a barrier method like the condom.
The quantity and quality of the sperm depends on the fathers-
- Eat healthy
- Reduce obesity
- Stop smoking
- If diabetic, keep blood sugar under control
Tight trousers or underwear can raise the temperature of the testicles and inhibit sperm production.
- Conception generally doesn’t occur immediately after unprotected intercourse
- Try for at least a year before you consult a doctor
Remain calm-tension reduces the chance of conceiving
- Track your ovulation
- Intercourse must take place on the same day
- Place a pillow under your hips to improve chances of retaining the semen
- The ‘woman on the back’ is the best intercourse position for increasing chances of conceiving
- Stay on your back for at least 10 minutes after intercourse
- Most importantly RELAX
Finally, remember that a planned pregnancy is more than the tips given above. Planning allows you and your spouse to discuss and understand all the implications from the emotional to the physical and from the financial to future changes in your lifestyles. It allows you to prepare mentally, emotionally and physically so that your pregnancy becomes a welcome and happy period of your life!