10 things all couples must do before becoming pregnant
While some couples prefer to leave pregnancy to chance (“let’s just stop trying not to get pregnant and see what happens”), others find themselves meticulously planning every aspect of their pregnancy.
Whichever of these categories you fall in, there are a few things you must do if you are even thinking of becoming pregnant in the near future. These will not only help increase your chances of conceiving, but also make your pregnancy healthier. They significantly reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and aid in maintaining your baby’s health both before and after birth.
Things to do before getting pregnant
10 things all couples must do before getting pregnant are:
1. Stop smoking
There is no grey area with regard to smoking. If you are not a smoker, do not start. And if you are a smoker, it is always a good time to stop.
Smoking during pregnancy is a strict no-no. It has been linked to a wide range of pregnancy complications including preterm labour, premature birth, low birth weight amongst others. It also increases the baby’s chances of developing chronic conditions such as obesity later on in life.
It is a lesser known fact that smoking also has extremely adverse effects on both male and female fertility. Couples can significantly increase their chances of becoming pregnant by simply kicking this habit.
2. Get a general health check-up
Finding a good maternity hospital can be very tough. And this decision is one of the most important ones you will make for your pregnancy.
Do extensive research into their qualifications and experience before making your choice. It is essential that you be comfortable with your doctor. You should be able to call them for any question or concern at any time without hesitation.
Try finding your doctor before your pregnancy itself. Schedule a visit with your doctor as soon you decide to start trying to conceive. They will probably assess your general health; review the medications you are currently on, test for infections and advise you to lose or gain weight as required.
Read: Early signs of pregnancy
Certain vaccines that contain live viruses are not advised for pregnant women. These include rubella and the chicken pox vaccine. However, protecting oneself against these diseases can go a long way in preventing them from causing complications in your pregnancy.
If you have never had measles, mumps, rubella or chickenpox, your doctor might advise you to get these vaccinations before you become pregnant.
4. Reduce your caffeine intake
During pregnancy, women often report that they can feel the effects of caffeine on their unborn child. Women who consume a lot of caffeinated products might find it tougher transitioning to “decaf” during pregnancy. Common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include headaches, irritability and constipation. Try reducing your caffeine intake before you conceive to avoid experiencing any of these unpleasant symptoms during your pregnancy.
5. Stop consuming raw meat and cheese
Unfortunately, raw meat such as sushi and certain cheeses can cause mild to severe infections. Pregnant women are advised to steer clear of unprocessed cheese and any type of raw or undercooked meat. If your favourite dish falls into either category, try weaning yourself off gradually or simply go cold turkey before your pregnancy.
Also, watch the video as Dr Aruna Kalra, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the CK Birla Hospital offers a few tips for couples on how they can increase their chances of conception and having a healthy pregnancy.
6. Become fit
Most of us confuse becoming fit with just losing weight. However, being fit and healthy is more than just losing weight. Start exercising regularly to make your body stronger for the pregnancy. It is also advised to start Kegel exercises to avoid complications such as fallen or prolapsed bladder. Remember to continue exercising throughout your pregnancy unless advised otherwise. If you are concerned about what exercises are or are not safe for your baby, consult your obstetrician.
7. Start taking vitamin supplements
Folic acid is probably one of the most essential and well-known vitamin supplements associated with pregnancy. Women are advised to start folic acid as early as one month before conception. It is generally consumed for the first three months of pregnancy. Folic acid is known to promote the development of your baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord. It helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the baby.
Based on your general health, you should also consider taking iodine, iron, fish oil and vitamin D3 supplements.
For the male partner, the following supplements have been shown to have a positive impact on sperm health.
- Cone enzyme Q10
- Vitamin D
8. Visit your dentist
Do not wait for your baby to come before you go for a dental visit. You will not have the time. During pregnancy, your hormones will go haywire and can sometimes cause unpleasant dental issues. It is a good idea to get your teeth cleaned and healthy before you start your pregnancy.
Read: How to prepare your body for Pregnancy: A complete how-to-guide
9. Reduce stress
High stress levels can severely lower your chances of becoming pregnant. This can invariably result in greater stress. Get out of this vicious cycle and start taking care of your psychological health. Try doing some breathing exercises, yoga, meditation etc. to manage stress. Some couples also find short vacations and getaways extremely effective. Also remember to talk openly to your partner as well as your doctor.
10. Maintain a healthy diet
Diet plays a key role in improving one’s fertility. Both partners must be conscious about what they are consuming. You and your partner can increase the chances of conception by following a healthy balanced diet. Be sure to include plenty of whole grains, unsaturated fats and vegetable proteins. Your obstetrician will also guide you with your diet based on your nutritional deficiencies.