Are you considering pregnancy? While visions of ultrasounds and maternity clothes might dance in your head, take a few minutes to consider your pre-pregnancy health and lifestyle. Subtle changes and improvements you make before the line on the stick turns pink will not only help you have an easier pregnancy, but they will increase the likelihood of delivering a healthy baby – a new mom’s dream.
Changes before pregnancy that matter
You may be absolutely ready to become a mother – you are emotionally ready for the marvelous undertaking. However, taking time to ensure that you are physically ready for this demanding undertaking is also imperative. Consider meeting with your OB, midwife, or other medical pregnancy partner to review your current health. Your body will be stretched and stressed in many ways, so preparing for those will only help you have a healthier and happier pregnancy and delivery.
Are your vaccines current?
There is currently concern over whooping cough (Pertussis) and the dangers it can pose to newborns. This highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract can be passed to infants who are too young to receive the vaccine. Mothers can help protect their babies by receiving a booster vaccine before they become pregnant so they don’t pass this dangerous illness on to their newborns. Check with your physician to discuss an appropriate schedule of vaccines.
Do you have a chronic condition?
If you have a chronic condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes, pregnancy can strain your body even more. Make sure you take measures to carefully control these conditions as much as possible before becoming pregnant. The extra weight gain that often occurs in diabetic pregnant mothers can add emotional and physical stress, so make careful plans and goals with your medical care provider.Is your current lifestyle compatible with a healthy pregnancy?
Are you physically active?
If you aren’t very physically active, chances are you won’t suddenly feel like taking up aerobics or jogging in your second trimester. Make efforts to follow a physical activity routine, even if it is walking every day. Doing so before you become pregnant is important so that you can understand when your body is sending you a message about the pregnancy versus one that says, “Hey – what were those jumping jacks all about? We don’t usually do those!”
Make sure that your current, pre-pregnancy diet is conducive to a healthy pregnancy. If you are overweight before you become pregnant, it will add to the physical stress on your body, make labor more difficult, and add to the physical and emotional stress after delivery. I yo-yoed my weight between each of my four children and I absolutely could tell a difference between the healthier pregnancies and the ones where I carried extra weight.
If you smoke or use illicit drugs – stop. In fact, all medication, even vitamins, will interact with your baby, so be certain to clear all of them with your healthcare provider. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, go into the pregnancy with a plan for how to handle these issues. Things like weight gain and health issues will only exacerbate these problems.
Is your partner’s lifestyle compatible with a healthy pregnancy?
Even though your partner won’t be carrying that bundle of joy until after delivery, he will be contributing to your environment and impacting whether or not it is healthy for you and your baby. Secondhand smoke, sedentary lifestyles, and non-supportive attitudes will make your pregnancy and your baby’s health suffer.
Preconception planning is valuable for you and a healthy pregnancy. It will help to create an environment where your baby can develop and thrive, and it will positively impact your relationship with your partner. Pregnancy and parenthood involve massive amounts of change – so start before the stick gets that pink line and enjoy a healthy, happy pregnancy.
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