How to Prepare for Pregnancy : A Guide to Everything You Need to Know

 Having a baby is one of the most wonderful experiences a woman can have. Preparing for pregnancy involves learning what changes your body will go through. How to increase your chances of getting pregnant and also how to take care of yourself once you are expecting. Pregnancy is a monumental moment in any woman’s life, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible before moving forward with this exciting chapter in your life. Here is everything you need to know about preparing for pregnancy.

1. Preconception Health and Counseling

Before you get pregnant, it’s important to know what to expect. This will help you prepare for all the changes your body is about to endure, and ensure that you are as healthy as possible. Take advantage of any preconception health counseling services that you can avail. This will help you learn what steps you can take to improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

2. Know your health history

This is extremely important for both you and the baby. Consult with your doctor about any illnesses you have had in the past, medication you have taken, ailments, allergies and other health-related issues. Analysis of personal and family medical history can provide useful insights for testing and reproductive decision making prior to pregnancy.

3.    Pre-pregnancy Care & Health Check-up

It is highly advised to get a women’s health check-up when planning for pregnancy. This will allow you to have necessary screenings or tests done in order to screen for any conditions or diseases that could be harmful to you or your future baby.

Pap smear- It is used to test for cervical cancer and is recommended for all women over the age of 21 get a Pap smear once every three years.

STD test – If you have had multiple sexual partners, or if you plan on participating in a poly-amorous relationship, it’s important to get tested for STDs.

Blood test – if you have a history of certain health issues, you will likely have to get a blood test. This is done to screen for conditions that can be harmful to the baby.

4.    Fertility Testing

There are many different fertility testing methods available in order for you to find out when you are most fertile. These tests can be very helpful if you and your partner are having a hard time conceiving.

-Taking an ovulation prediction test  – The best time to get pregnant is when you are ovulating. This is when your body releases eggs and makes them ready to be fertilized. Knowing your fertility window is a very simple method that involves timed-in intercourse based on your own menstrual cycle. There are many different ovulation prediction tests that can performed at home. These tests can help to find out when you are ovulating.

Charting your basal body temperature – You should take your basal body temperature every day. If your temperature is lower than it usually is during certain days of your cycle, this indicates that you are ovulating.

Charting your cervical mucous – You should examine your vaginal discharge throughout the month in order to track when you are most fertile.

Taking a saliva test – If you are trying to conceive with a male partner, there are certain saliva tests that can help you to track when he is most fertile.

Using an ovulation predictor app – There are many ovulation predictor apps available online. These apps can track your ovulation and predict when it will occur based on your cycle.

5.    Nutrition and Exercise

You should start eating healthy and exercising as soon as you decide to get pregnant. This will help to prepare your body for pregnancy, as well as ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Even if you aren’t trying to get pregnant yet, you should still eat healthy and exercise regularly. Doing this will greatly improve your health and your quality of life.

Eat a balanced diet – This means eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, protein and other essential nutrients.

Stay hydrated – Pregnant women should have at least eight glasses of water per day. Water helps flush toxins out from the body.

Avoid certain foods – Avoid eating foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, as well as any other foods that are bad for you.

Avoid harmful substances – Reduce both your caffeine and alcohol consumption. Make a plan to stop smoking tobacco, marijuana and other such substances, as these can negatively affect your ability to get pregnant. THC use and smoking during pregnancy can lead to preterm birth and low birth weight.

-Maintain a good body mass index (BMI) – It’s important for those planning on pregnancy to maintain a good BMI. Studies have linked prenatal maternal obesity and overweight to a number of negative birth outcomes, such as preterm birth, macrosomia, and large for gestational age (LGA), while prenatal maternal underweight has been linked to low birth-weight and small for gestational age (SGA).

-Exercise to stay mentally and physically fit – Exercise can help boost your mood, calm you down, and potentially even prevent depression. Light to moderate exercise during pregnancy is the best type of exercise for you and your baby. Pilates and prenatal yoga are recommended, as they have a positive impact on both physical and mental health. You should aim to workout 3-5 times each week, ideally, completing a 20 minute workout is sufficient.

6.    Prenatal Vitamins and Supplements

Prenatal vitamins and other supplements will ensure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients in order to maintain your overall during pregnancy.

Take a daily multi-vitamin – You can get most of the nutrients you need from a daily multivitamin.

Take a folic acid supplement – This will help to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida in your baby.

Take iron supplements – Women lose iron during their menstrual cycle, as well as during pregnancy. If you don’t take iron supplements, you might become anaemic.

Take an omega-3 fish oil supplement – This will help to prevent mood swings and other problems that can occur during pregnancy.

Take probiotics – This will help to improve your overall gut health and prevent any bacterial infections.

7.    Managing Stress

Stress is one of the worst things you can do to yourself, especially when you are pregnant. Stress can cause a number of problems, especially in the first trimester when your body is still adjusting to being pregnant. Getting plenty of sleep is the most important thing you can do to cope with stress during pregnancy. There are various other science-based strategies for managing stress and anxiety during pregnancy. Mindfulness-based practices are good ways to keep stress at bay. Regular exercise can help pregnant women better manage stress and promote good quality sleep. Besides these, having a family / social support is an important factor for pregnancy and postpartum health.