Deciding to have a baby is a big decision in one’s life. It’s a commitment made for the next couple of years until your kids are ready to move out and live on with their lives.
Backtracking back to the present, as any women would, you want to insure that you have a healthy and comfortable pregnancy right from the moment you hold that positive test all the way until the end, where you’re waddling around awaiting the arrival of your little one.
During your pregnancy, there are numerous steps that you can take to keep to a healthy lifestyle without feeling like you’ve completely given up on all things good.
What most moms-to-be don’t realize is that before you fall pregnant, you can already start adjusting to a newer lifestyle, the one that you’ll be following during your pregnancy as well as after giving birth. There are also other factors you can take care of so you don’t need to stress about them when you’re already expecting.
Both my pregnancies with my sons’ were ‘semi-planned’; we knew we wanted a baby but we weren’t exactly sitting down and planning every detail to the minute. We allowed time and chance to play its part. While I did implement a few changes to my lifestyle, I didn’t take it all too seriously because I thought to myself, “I’m still young, and my lifestyle won’t need as much adjusting to make sure that both my baby and I stay healthy.”
I don’t want to say it, but I will; knowledge does come with experience. When my husband and I decided to have our third baby, I didn’t waste time. I knew I was older now, and that my body had already gone through so many changes, I needed to make sure I was in good shape before falling pregnant again. However, no matter at what age you decide to have a baby, you can already make these changes to your lifestyle. While some of these things are pretty straightforward, there are some factors you might not even consider.
Pregnancy is not the time to change bad/unhealthy habits, so start the changes BEFORE you fall pregnant. Also, making the changes before you fall pregnant will help you adjust faster than having to do so when you’re already expecting.
Lose any bad habits.
These can range from anything small to the bigger ones. You want your body to be in the best possible state when you fall pregnant, so lose habits such as drinking alcohol and smoking. Both can have negative effects on your growing baby; resulting in miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects and still birth. If you’re a heavy drinker or smoker, start cutting down and if possible, try and go cold turkey from the moment you decide you want to get pregnant.
Lessen the caffeine intake.
If you live for coffee, I have some bad news, you’re going to have to cut down-a lot. Coffee is a stimulant, which means the effects of all the coffee you drink are also passed on to your baby. If you rely on coffee for energy, alternate that with other ways, natural ones, to boost your energy. One cup a day is fine, but more isn’t recommended.
Getting in shape before falling pregnant helps pave the way to a more comfortable pregnancy. If you’re thinking of losing some weight, do it before trying to conceive. Losing weight during pregnancy isn’t a good thing, and exercising for that purpose while expecting can cause complications. Having your body in a healthy physical state before getting pregnant will help make your pregnancy more comfortable (especially considering how many physical changes your body will go through) as well as make things easier after your baby has been born.
This might seem like an obvious one, but most women only start thinking about this after they hold up the positive pregnancy test. If you’re living a life with lots of fast food, it’s time to give that up and start stocking up on healthy things, like fruits and vegetables. You don’t need to cut EVERYTHING out, just make sure you’re balancing your meals. Whatever you’re putting in your body, you baby will be eating as well so you want to make sure you’re eating as healthy as possible. Since it’s not always easy to mix up and change, especially if you’re used to your current eating habits, changing them before getting pregnant will help you adjust to the changes and it’ll be one less thing to worry about while you’re carrying your little one.
Eat your favorite food
There are lots of food classes you need to avoid during pregnancy because they can be harmful to your baby; sushi, unpasteurized dairy products, fish with high mercury, raw meat, etc. Nine months is a long time to be without some of these foods, especially if they happen to be some of your favorites. Enjoy them before getting pregnant, because you’ll need to go cold turkey until its safe again to eat them.
Start taking a prenatal vitamin
All pregnant women need to take a prenatal vitamin to make sure they’re getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Prenatal vitamins help protect your unborn baby from birth defects as well as make sure they stay healthy from the moment of conception. Since most birth defects occur between three to four weeks of pregnancy, a lot of women don’t even know they are already pregnant at this stage yet, so it’s best to start taking a prenatal vitamin before getting pregnant. There are many different ones on the market to choose from and you can consult with your doctor on recommendations on which one would be best for you.
Check your medications
Speaking of vitamins, a lot of medication is not safe to take during pregnancy because it’s harmful to your baby or hasn’t been proven to be safe to use. If you’re unsure of the safety of any of the medication you’re on, speak to your doctor; they will help with finding an alternative to the medication which will be safe to use. It’s always best to stop taking any (unless it’s safe) before getting pregnant so as to avoid any unnecessary complications.
If you’re planning on getting pregnant, take a visit to your doctor. If you need to do any check-ups, now is the time to get them done. Also, any questions you may have on falling pregnant, medications, concerns, etc. can be discussed with the doctor so you know what you to expect and what to adjust. If you need to visit the dentist, do it before falling pregnant. X-rays aren’t allowed while you’re pregnant due to the harmful radiation, unless there’s something serious the dentist has picked up on. Tooth extractions are also not recommended (unless there’s an emergency) during the first (can result in miscarriage) and third (can result in premature birth) trimester. So if you need any work done, see your dentist before getting pregnant.
Check your medical aid plan
Giving birth is an expensive exercise, especially if you’re planning to give birth at a private facility. There are a lot of fees involved; doctors, pediatrician, your hospital stay, etc. If you’re on medical aid, you can breathe a little. Before getting pregnant, double check the plan you’re on to see what is covered by the medical aid and if you’ll be needing to pay anything extra from your pocket. While most medical aid plans cover quite a percentage of your maternity needs, you’ll want to know what the costs are. If you can, upgrade your plan-the higher the plan, the more things that are covered by the medical aid. Make sure to find out if your new plan is effective immediately after your upgrade as sometimes there’s a waiting period on when the benefits can be used without needing to pay an extra fee.
Study your finances
Having a baby can be expensive, even though you can cut on a lot of costs by not falling into the trap of buying every item you’re confronted with at the baby shop, it can still be pricy. Nappies, formula, baby food, clothes, furniture and other baby essentials push up the expenses and once your baby is in the picture, it might not be ideal to discuss your financial status. If you feel that financially you’re not ready, try and find other employment options. Before taking any big steps in your career changes, study your expenses. If you’ve spending money on things every month because of your current lifestyle, you could consider putting that money aside and start saving for all those baby expenses.
Stop taking birth control
It seems like one of those obvious things to do, but most doctors recommend giving up your birth control a couple of months before trying to fall pregnant. Once you stop taking the medication, your body needs to get it out of your system, and if you’ve been taking birth control for a long time, it might take a little longer to detox. Consult with your doctor on the matter, and if you’re worried about falling pregnant before you’re ready with all the changes you’re making to your lifestyle, ask for recommendations on alternative birth control options.
All these tips are there to help you have a healthy and preferably stress-free pregnant, and what better time is there than before you get pregnant? Getting healthy and taking care of yourself if just as important to do before getting pregnant, and it’s a lot easier to do so before getting pregnant.