15 Things couples should do before planning a pregnancy

15 Things couples should do before planning a pregnancy

If you are planning on having a baby in the near future, it's important to start thinking ahead. We've compiled a guide to help optimize your lifestyle and health before giving birth!

Getting ready to become parents is a big undertaking—and pregnancy is a big part of it for many people. When it comes to getting pregnant, there are a few things to do before you start trying. Check out these 15 things to do before pregnancy.

1. Have a Pre-Pregnancy Parenting Talk

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According to experts and real parents: If you're partnered, it's important that you chat with your future co-parent about some of the biggest parenting issues—like how you'll share childcare obligations, how you plan to raise children and so on. "Communication is key. Couples should start talking about the important things before getting pregnant. Such topics to discuss might include concerns and priorities."  

2. Stop Your Birth Control

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Consider stopping contraception before you start trying if you've used hormonal methods like the pill, patch, or ring. If this doesn't work for you, speak to your doctor about long-acting reversible contraception - it can be an option. The best time to stop using contraception depends on your contraceptive type. You can consult with the doctor at any time to find out the best time for you. For hormonal birth control methods, stop taking them two months before trying to conceive, says Robert A. Greene, M.D., co-author of Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility. This timing gives you some time to figure out your natural menstrual cycle and identify the fertile days. This typically happens when a woman ovulates, which is loosely defined as the two to three days around the middle of a woman's cycle. If you've been on the pill for a long time, your menstrual cycle might start to look different than it used to. It can take time for your hormones to level out after coming off the pill. If you're still not having periods after

3. Cut back on using all substances, including alcohol, while trying to conceive.

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What about drinking, smoking and taking recreational drugs? You should definitely avoid these mistakes when you're pregnant. If you've indulged in any of these already, Dr Jennifer Wider advises that now would be a good time to stop doing them before you start trying to get pregnant

"You may not need to change anything as a moderate drinker. You might want to wait until after you're pregnant before making any changes." "But It can be a problem to drink most nights of the week or drink five cocktails in a sitting." Another example is alcohol. Excess intake has been shown to interfere with your fertility and can lower sperm count in men.

Smoking even just occasionally or socially can lower your egg and sperm quality, increase your risk of certain disorders, and give you complications before and after you have a baby.

In fact, up to 13% of fertility problems may be caused by tobacco use according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and no level of smoking or exposure is safe. Smoke-free living is an easy way to allow better chances of pregnancy with lower levels of exposure. You may find the habit becoming addictive, and make sure your partner does too, to ensure a healthier future.

What's more, quitting smoking or drinking cold whale after you get pregnant can be a big shock to your system, say authors Odes and Morris "Psychologically speaking, if you feel that pregnancy made you 'give up' all these things you loved, it can start to pile on some resentment right out of the gate," they say. Quitting smoking or your multiple margarita habit is a great achievement, so start now and continue.

4. Limiting the caffeinated drinks

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If the Starbucks barista knows your order as soon as you step up the counter, or if you can't get through the workday without four cups of French roast, do yourself a favour and reduce your caffeine intake now. "Do some things to promote healthy fluid balance; drink plenty of water, eat potassium-rich foods like bananas and legumes?" says Dr Wider "Because not only is caffeine intake too high linked to miscarriage, but it also causes withdrawal symptoms post-pregnancy."

Caffeine is in lots of stuff we often consume, like soda, tea, energy drinks and even some pain medications. You should also count caffeine from chocolate and some decongestants too.

5. Having a healthy weight

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Losing or gaining weight as you and your doctor agree is a great way to improve your health and chances of conceiving.

An obese woman can't conceive as easily as a woman of a healthy weight. It may present different risks and complications. Being far underweight also reduces your chance of conceiving and pregnancy.

Whether you're thin, curvy, or in-between, staying healthy during and after pregnancy is an important part of living a quality life. You can increase the chance that you'll continue with your routine by choosing exercises that are appropriate for your needs as well as inserting them sporadically into your routine.

6. Be prepared to deal with added expenses

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As your child starts taking shape and form, you may be thinking about items on a much larger scale: college savings, diapers, and baby clothes. However, many parents-to-be don't realize that pregnancy itself can be difficult to afford.

Many people don't realize they should start investing before they have children. Now is a great time to start saving something each payday-even if it's just $20 a paycheck. And if you have any money left over, you can always spend it on things like nursery furniture, clothes, or diapers when the time comes!

Also Read: The Surprising Benefits of Walking Regularly on Fertility and Reproductive Health

7. As per the Doctor’s recommendation take a Prenatal Supplement

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"Any woman thinking about getting pregnant in the next 3-6 months should start taking a daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid," says Dr Wider. A March of Dimes study found that by getting enough B2 in pre-pregnancy or early pregnancy, birth defects can be reduced by up to 70%

It’s important to consume a multivitamin during pregnancy, particularly when you're looking to get your daily requirements of iron and calcium. It's a good idea for new pregnant mothers to start taking their prenatal vitamins as soon as possible - even sooner than they're actually expecting. You can take them a few weeks before pregnancy, as well, which will make it easier when you need to remember to take them.

8. Take enough sleep

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"Bank those zzz's now, recommends Jackie Rose, co-author of The Newly Non-Drinking Girl's Guide to Pregnancy. That means sleeping in with your partner and taking naps whenever you can," says Rose.

Sleeping can be tough, especially when pregnant. From heartburn to baby-related aches and pains, it sometimes feels like there's no way to get to sleep at night.

Sleeping enough is a natural way to improve fertility. In some cases, insufficient sleep can make it harder for the body to ovulate, as proven in studies.

9. Monitoring the stress level

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A link between stress levels and a person's reproductive ability is yet unclear, but some studies show that high-stress levels may make ovulation irregular or hamper the implantation of an embryo. As you can imagine, if you're feeling stressed before becoming pregnant, then the amount of stress could increase during pregnancy and after the baby's birth.

To get ready, take an emotional gut check and figure out what helps you relax best. It will help you manage your improvements from this point on. "Perhaps you enjoy tea-drinking & watching old episodes of Sex and the City, going for a 3-mile run, or just letting off steam to your best friend. Whatever you like to do now, it might be comforting to know that it will likely help you when pregnant/new motherhood arrives."

10. Analyzing the living situation

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If you need to move, we recommend that you do so ASAP. Stabilizing by moving somewhere long-term can help your mental health and provide a more lasting solution than moving from place to place. Pregnancy is an exciting time and you want to do everything possible to make it a positive experience. You won't have time for mundane tasks like packing, managing the move, finding a new place, or dealing with lawyers – so hire someone who can take care of all that for you!

It's great that you're starting to plan your family. If you don't feel like moving, don't. You can have a baby in any kind of house, not just one in the suburbs with two or three bedrooms. Infants need to sleep with their parents at the beginning of their life, and they often don't even like sleeping in different rooms.

11. Evaluating your Job and finances

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Although there are no laws preventing you from job hunting while pregnant, now could be a good time to consider switching jobs if you're unhappy in the meantime. There's no law that says you can't do it either, though it is against the law to not hire someone for being pregnant alone.

For one thing, you need to have worked at your company in some capacity for at least 12 months before you can take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This federal law ensures companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

But more than that, it's important to take a 10,000-foot look at your career and ask yourself the following questions: Is the number of hours you work ok? Does the work you do allow you enough flexibility with your childcare? Are you looking for a company with a shorter commute? Or is it just better to work somewhere that has other new parents?

If you're not sure how your job fits with your expectations, see if there are things about your work that could be adjusted for you. You could ask for changes like a schedule change, a company or location change, or benefits adjustments. Perhaps you can take on smaller clients to cut back on your hours or work remotely a few days a week if you have a particularly long commute.

12 Ask your loved ones about their pregnancies

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Ask anyone who has gone through it before you! Did it take them a long time to get pregnant? Were there any complications, like preterm labor or breech presentation? Some health conditions tend to be hereditary, so it's a good idea to get in touch with your family medical history for any of these. Let your doctor know about any conditions that you have or have had.

But hey, don't worry too much. You're not doomed if you come from a family with fertility struggles, although finding out that it's also an issue for your partner can be tough. Many common female fertility problems, like age-related poor egg quality or blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, are not hereditary. But some, like fibroids, ovarian cysts, or blood clotting disorders can run in families.

Your doctor can explain to you which issues might make it harder for you to conceive or affect your pregnancy if any. This will help you take steps ahead of time should those issues crop up.

13. Visit Your Doctor

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Many healthcare professionals recommend that people who are trying to get pregnant need to get a pre-pregnancy check-up 3 months or more beforehand to make sure they're healthy. This can help you start off on the right foot, says Dr Greene. A doctor's visit is a great time to ensure you're up-to-date on vaccinations and get STI tests for any activity since your last check. You'll also want to be sure to monitor any chronic illnesses or conditions that you may have and be sure your heart health is monitored for high blood pressure and cholesterol.

During your visit, you should ask any questions you might have about getting pregnant. While there, make sure that you aren't taking any medications that might affect fertility or be unsafe to take during pregnancy.

Considering getting pregnant? Make sure you speak with your healthcare provider about your future needs and then make an assessment if the two of you will work well together. Take note of their experience with pregnant people for example whether or not they treat babies.)

Some people may make you feel left out, or even ignored. Whatever the circumstances, it's worth the time to assess whether they actually want to help and if they have your best interests at heart. Once you're expecting and need some advice, it can be hard to find a genuine and dependable source.

Send your partner, if applicable to the internist too. Men often see a doctor much less frequently than women and may benefit from more frequent visits. A regular physical can help determine if you have any chronic health issues that might affect your fertility. Your doctor can also check if certain medications may lower your sperm count or otherwise affect your fertility.

14. Dentist plays a role too

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Teeth problems are sometimes completely unrelated to fertility, but if you're thinking about getting pregnant, it's a wise move to get your teeth checked as soon as possible. More research points towards oral health and pregnancy being linked; untreated gum disease can make people more prone to complications during childbirth.

"In fact, brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist regularly can cut your risk of miscarriage by up to 70%," he says. Having your teeth examined now gives you time to get gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) under control and get x-rays (which should minimize the risk), since they carry a much lower radiation dose than

If your oral hygiene isn’t so hot, your dentist may recommend you come in for check-ups every few months. If a problem is found, you can get help to fix the problem.

15. Stay as chemical-free as possible

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As a mom-to-be, the colour of my hair is on my mind. "If you've been colouring your hair", Dr Wider says, "now is the time to think about how you want to proceed during your pregnancy." I will want to maintain the same shade, so touch-ups every few weeks are out of the question during this time.

Though there isn't any conclusive research that proves hair dye is unsafe while pregnant, most experts recommend reducing exposure to chemicals, especially during the first trimester when major organ development takes place.

Getting your hair coloured this summer? Ask what type of colour will be best for you. If you want to try out highlights, ask if they're less of a commitment and use fewer chemicals.

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