What To Do If You’re Thinking of Getting Pregnant
February 5, 2014
Planning for a baby? This is a pivotal time in your life full of excitement but also many questions and considerations. As you prepare to expand your family it is important to discuss several important prenatal topics with your healthcare provider.
Firstly, many ob-gyns offer preconception office visits where your doctor will go over current health conditions and medical history. During this time, your doctor will determine what medications you can take during pregnancy, if you need to change your diet and weight, and if there are any habits you should stop before conception (like smoking and drinking).
At this appointment your doctor may prescribe a prenatal vitamin supplement that includes folic acid. Folic acid recommendations suggest 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid a day before and during pregnancy. According to the CDC information on pregnancy and folic acid:
If a woman consumes the recommended amount of folic acid before and during early pregnancy, it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain (known as anencephaly) and spine (known as spina bifida)… Healthcare providers should encourage every woman of childbearing age to consume folic acid from fortified foods or supplements, or a combination of the two, in addition to a varied diet rich in folate.
Additional information about folic acid is available at http://www.cdc.gov/folicacid.
The Prenate® brand offers a number of prenatal vitamin options (like Prenate®Mini) for those looking to conceive or for expectant mothers that include the recommended amount of daily folic acid.
Your doctor may also help you find ways to manage preexisting conditions during pregnancy. Some conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, epilepsy, asthma, and more, can affect pregnancy. Work with your doctor to find out what treatments will work best for you and your baby.
Along similar lines, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the types of disorders and diseases that run in your family. Your doctor may recommend genetic counseling to determine any genetic risk factors either you or your partner may pose. Examples of gene disorders include cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, among others.
If you smoke, now’s the time to kick the habit. Smoking before, during, and after pregnancy can cause problems for both baby and mom. Not only can smoking make it more difficult to get pregnant (by decreasing estrogen levels and affecting the ovaries), but it can also be the cause of low birth weight, preterm deliveries, and worse for some babies.
Along with the medical side of preparing for a baby, it’s important to talk to your spouse beforehand about upcoming topics—just in case. What options do you both agree with if you can’t get pregnant naturally? If you become pregnant, how will responsibilities be divided? If you have a child, will you consider going back to work after maternity leave of staying home? What financial considerations should you make before you become pregnant? Contemplate these questions and more when planning to become pregnant.