Take the Plunge – Prepare for Pregnancy


This is it. You’re ready. You’re throwing out the birth control pills and circling prime-time sex dates on the calendar. What else do you need? Before you start painting the nursery, there are a few things you should now to prepare for pregnancy.

Since the first few weeks of pregnancy are the most vital to the development of the baby, mom and dad need to be healthy and avoid any harmful activities and substances when you’re trying to make a baby.

Shake the family tree

To prepare for pregnancy, sit down with your partner and take notes on your family members. Don’t worry about the skeletons in the closet, but instead, focus on any health issues members of your family have. Going back as far as your grandparents and including your siblings and their children, if any, write down approximate birth and death dates and any known health problems, including cancers, diabetes, psychological issues and heart disease. The March of Dimes has a great free online form.

Get thee to a doctor

You need a check up. Anything from elevated blood pressure to lingering infections need to be addressed before you start growing a baby. Many gynecologists also do basic preventative care for women, including blood pressure screening, diabetes screening, cholesterol screening, and even check vaccinations such as tetanus shots. Schedule your appointment today. That’s includes the dentist, too.

Update your shots

Catching a disease like chickenpox or rubella (German measles) during pregnancy can harm your baby. The March of Dimes recommends making sure you’re immune to these diseases to prepare for pregnancy. You’re immune if:

• You’ve had the disease.
• You’ve had an immunization shot.

If you don’t know if you’re immune, you can have a blood test to find out. If you need a shot, wait at least one month after the shot before trying to get pregnant. If you plan to travel to another country, you may need other shots to help keep you safe from disease.

Eat your veggies

You know the drill – eat healthy food, maintain a healthy weight and get fit. Exercising for 30 minutes on all or most days of the week is a good way to help maintain or lose weight, build fitness and reduce stress. If you’re underweight or overweight, moving toward a healthy weight will be better for you and baby.

Find some folate

Growing babies need folic acid. Studies have shown that 300-400mcg of folic acid a day can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects when taken before conception. Prenatal vitamins are $4 at most discount stores, so you’ve got no excuse not to stock up.

Toss the toxins

Some chemicals can hurt a growing baby. Most studies suggest the greatest risk of exposure to pesticides is during the first three to eight weeks of the first trimester when the neural tube development is occurring, explains the American Pregnancy Association.

Quit cleaning the kitty box

I know this will be heartbreaking, but you need to find someone else to clean out kitty’s litter box. There’s a little parasite that causes toxoplasmosis and you can get it from handling cat feces in the litter box or outside. If you can’t find anyone else to do it, at least wear protection – a pair of rubber gloves should do it.

Nix the no-nos

If you smoke, drink or do illegal drugs, quit. (That means caffeine, too!). They’ll keep you from getting pregnant and hurt the little one once you get pregnant.

Get your house in order

Your medical insurance covers pregnancy, right? Working to be financially ready for a baby will relieve some stress so you can focus on staying healthy.

To learn more and prepare for pregnancy:

American Pregnancy Association (APA)
The APA is a national health organization committed to promoting reproductive and pregnancy wellness through education, research, advocacy, and community awareness.
1425 Greenway Drive, Suite 440, Irving , Texas 75038
(972) 550-0140

March of Dimes
A national non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health, we’re dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC′s mission is “to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.” 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333 (404) 498-1515
Provides many links to articles and studies related to preconception care: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/preconception/links.htm

Appropriate preconception health care improves pregnancy
American Family Physician; 6/15/2002; BRUNDAGE, STEPHANIE C.
Prepare for Pregnancy.

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