So, have you and your spouse decided to have a baby? First of all, hearty congratulations! Getting pregnant can be one of the happiest moments in a couple's life. Well, some pregnancies just happen, whereas others can be planned.
Preparing your body to nurture your little one inside you benefits not only your baby but also you. So, if you are planning to get pregnant, the following preconception planning steps will help you enjoy a smooth and joyful pregnancy that is free from complications.
PROCESSES INVOLVED IN PRECONCEPTION PLANNING FOR A HEALTHY PREGNANCY
Women, nowadays, often prefer to marry and have children in the later years of their lives. Well, this might be due to several personal or professional reasons. But according to associate professor Tan Thiam Chye and Dr Tan Shu Qi of KK Women's and Children's Hospital, fertility declines sharply from 35 years of age.
Having children later in life also increases chances of genetic abnormalities and pregnancy complications. The doctors said: "start young when you're in your prime - between 20 to 24 years of age!" However, if you are older, seeing an obstetrician early will help.
The moment you and your spouse take the decision to have a baby, book an appointment for pre-conception screening test. This is necessary to reduce the risks of birth defects and miscarriages.
Firstly, the doctor will investigate your medical history and inquire about your family's medical background for abnormalities like achondroplasia (a type of dwarfism).
Other tests involved are Pap smear, ultrasound of your reproductive system and blood tests for sexually transmitted diseases.
If you are not already vaccinated, the doctor might suggest vaccinations against hepatitis B and rubella, and prescribe prenatal supplements like folic acid, calcium and iron.
HEALTHY LIFESTYLE AND EATING HABITS
Good sleep and nutritious food are essential factors for improved fertility and healthy pregnancy. Include lean meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, whole milk, nuts and yoghurt in your diet.
Junk food and desserts must be avoided to control your blood sugar levels. Also, avoid alcohol, caffeine, oily foods, fizzy drinks, sushi and other forms of raw meats, soft cheeses and readymade sauces.
Fertility specialist Dr. Yeong Cheng Toh advises, "Preparation of pregnancy is very important. The lifestyle, food habits and physical activities that couples follow everyday will influence the possible success of conception."
START AN EXERCISE ROUTINE
Exercise is yet another crucial factor that helps to prepare your body for conception. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), including exercise in your preconception planning programme will help you conceive faster and reduce complications during pregnancy.
However, they also advise you to avoid strenuous exercises. Some activities that can be included in your fitness regime are jogging, running and aerobics. Yoga is yet another excellent form of workout to stimulate your ovaries and uterus, boost blood supply to your reproductive organs, relieve stress and anxiety, and make your groins and hips flexible.
INDULGE IN A HOLIDAY
Although pregnancy is a wonderful feeling, it can be pretty stressful. And so, this is the apt time to indulge in a holiday either with your spouse or your friends.
Treat yourself to some adventurous sports like paragliding, snorkelling, etc. Book a villa, have some fun in the sun, go for nature walks, etc.
After you conceive, make sure that you dutifully follow all the newly inculcated good habits. Ensure that you do not miss your appointments with your doctor. Finally, cherish every moment of this priceless and delightful journey of motherhood.
This article was first published in theAsianparent.