The ABCs of Pregnancy

All About Pregnancy
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Are you ready to get pregnant? If the answer is yes, take the time to think a little. When planning for pregnancy, couples need to take several precautions, all in order to ensure successful and as much as possible painless and easy pregnancy. Getting ready for pregnancy usually takes a month or two. Once couple decide to have a baby, first step is to consult the physician, about possible complications, weight, diet, habits, contraception and everything else.

The Best Age to Get Pregnant

There is no right answer here. The best age to get pregnant is the one mothers feel comfortable with. Once you feel comfortable – both physically and mentally – it is easier to conceive. There are however certain benefits depending on the age. Many experts and physicians believe 24 to be the ideal age. This is when women reach the peak of their fertility. The body is primed for pregnancy in the early 20s, and from a biological perspective, there is no better* time to conceive. The risk for miscarriage also increases* with age. Mothers in their 20s adapt to the new life more easy. On the other hand, some consider 30s the happy medium age for pregnancy. Mothers are now well established in their profession, they usually have successful career and relationship, making them more secure and comfortable in the role of a mother. The bad news is that pregnancy in 30s brings certain risks that are not there in the 20s.

How to Plan for Pregnancy?

  • Medical Conditions: First thing future mothers need to ask and consult their physician are medical conditions. This includes discussing about mother and her partner’s family history especially genetic and chromosomal disorders. Mothers should answer as accurate as possible to the questions, as they help determine whether some prenatal tests should be recommended or not.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Mothers need to talk with the physician about their lifestyle habits. Alcohol and smoking are off the list. Also, make sure you are living in a stress-free and toxic-free environment.
  • Drugs: Taking medicines during and before pregnancy can cause birth defects. Planning pregnancy means that all unnecessary medications should be avoided. Consulting with the physician helps determining what medications mothers can safely use.
  • Vaccination: Before conceiving, mothers should be cautious about taking vaccinations. It is not recommended to vaccinate during pregnancy, especially vaccines with life viruses. There remains a big argument if mothers during pregnancy need to receive vaccinations or not. Therefore, taking the necessary precautions is imperative. Vaccine for rubella should be taken at least one month before conceiving.
  • Sexual Health: Another thing to keep in mind is sexual health. That is why before trying to conceive, mothers need to visit their gynecologist, and take some tests including PAP. Should the mother suffers from sexual diseases, they need to be treated and taken care of, as they can harm the baby.
  • Diet and Nutrition: Once they decide to have a baby, healthy diet is imperative for mothers. Healthy diet means eating balanced meals, with lots of diversity. Getting their weight to normal is crucial for easier pregnancy, as added weight from pregnancy puts pressure on the body.

What to Avoid During Pregnancy?

First thing to avoid when trying to conceive is contraception. While it is easy to ditch preservatives and start having unprotected sex, some methods for contraception require planning. For example, mothers using pill should finish their current pack before having a baby. Sometimes, it requires several months for their cycle to get back to normal. Some physicians recommended using condoms until mothers have normal period after they ditch the pill.

When it comes to food, fans of fish will be disappointed. Mothers, who want to have a baby, should avoid some fish that are high in mercury. Fish is excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and vitamin D, but those containing mercury should be avoided (shark, tuna, swordfish, tilefish). Coffee is another thing that mothers need to forget. There is no recommended dose of caffeine that is safe; however, future mothers should try to minimize their intake as much as possible (about 1 to 2 cups a day). Food rich in vitamin A should also be avoided, as too much vitamin A during and before pregnancy can be harmful as it can cause birth defects. On the other hand, Listeria is a common bacterium that can contaminate food. Listeria causes fetal death, and it is common in soft cheese, unpasteurized milk, cold processed meats and raw seafood should be avoided. It is also important to carefully wash fresh vegetables and fruits.

Trying to get pregnant is an excellent “excuse” to stop* drinking, smoking, and god forbidden, use street drugs. All these factors can lead to miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. Alcohol also reduces* fertility.

What to Do During Pregnancy?

Once we’ve listed things that should be avoided, it is logical to list what should future mothers take.

1. Supplementation: First on the list is a folic acid supplement for at least one month before conceiving. Consuming folic acid, at least 400 micrograms per day is needed during pregnancy as well. Other supplements such as vitamin D are crucial for baby’s development. Sometimes, doses may vary depending on the mother, and it is the job of the physician to determine the appropriate dose.

Once a woman decides to conceive, she needs to stack her fridge with healthy nutrients. The list should include fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, beans and nuts.

2. Avoid infections: Mothers should be free of all infections before they try to have a baby. Most of the infections can harm the baby, therefore it is imperative to provide healthy environment for baby’s development. Maintaining a healthy hygiene is the best way to stay off from infections, and most important is to wash hands before preparing meals.

3. Finances: Having a baby puts pressure on the finances of the family. Couples need to consider this factor before trying to conceive. Having a health insurance helps. However, couples need to ask and find out the prices of delivery. Another thing to consider is the cost once the baby comes. Babies cost money, and this requires careful planning and preparing.

4. Exercise: Getting fit before pregnancy can help a lot during the pregnancy. If mothers start with lean body, the added weight of the pregnancy will not put much pressure on their body. A good exercise plan/regime includes 30 minutes of light exercise every day. This can include walking, cycling, pilates, yoga, or any other fitness program. Continuing with exercise during pregnancy is recommended, and some mothers do it in their 8/9th month of pregnancy.

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Author

Expert Author : Peony C Echavez (Consumer Health Digest)

Peony is a registered nurse, and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a large health education website, and currently creates content for a number of health practisioners.