15 Things to Do Before You Get Pregnant
A Checklist for Planning a Pregnancy
You've ditched the birth control, daydreamed about future children, and imagined what you'd look like with a baby bump.
But, have you considered important steps to take before you conceive? If you are thinking of having a baby, there are tasks to complete before you get the bun in the oven. Here are 15 things to do before you say, "Honey, we're pregnant!"
Carefully Decide if Parenthood is for You
Ask yourself, "Am I ready to be fully and completely responsible for another human being?" This may mean having to give up things in your life that are important. Your days of sleeping in, spending money all on yourself, and late night partying will be pretty much over.
It's crucial for you and your husband to decide if being a parent is a role you both want to fill, at least at this stage in your lives. Essentially, your lives will come second once you have a child. Ask your friends/family for advice.
Truthfully, you are never 100% prepared to be a parent. If you are nervous and unsure, it doesn't necessarily mean you aren't ready. However, if you feel that you still want to enjoy life without the responsibilities of caring for a tot, perhaps you need to postpone parenthood for awhile.
Get Treatment for Childhood Issues
If you had a rough childhood, and were abused or neglected, now is the time to seek counseling and try to resolve any issues you might have. Child abuse and poor parenting skills tend to run in cycles, but that doesn't mean you can't break the cycle.
There are plenty of excellent parents who were abused as children. It just puts you at greater risk for not taking proper care of your children. Search for a reputable therapist who will help you in treating any issues you might have. (Just a note, remember there are some bad counselors out there - be careful. If you have a negative experience, don't give up, try a new one.)
Also, allow the therapist to help you, but remember you are ultimately the choice maker. In other words, take all of his/her advice with a grain of salt.
Counseling can be expensive. If you cannot afford one, call your local United Way or churches to see if they offer low cost or free counseling.
Go to the Doctor
A pre-conception visit to your gynecologist is a wise choice. You should had a pap smear test, and if necessary, STD screening. It's a great time to consult with him/her on planning a healthy pregnancy, what you need to know, what to expect, etc. Also, ask him or her what books you should read or not read.
Folic Acid Prevents Birth Defects
Take Prenatal Vitamins
Your doctor will (hopefully) talk to you about the importance of taking prenatal vitamins before you conceive and throughout your pregnancy. This is necessary not only to keep you healthy, but for the baby's health. Studies have shown that folic acid, a B vitamin, can prevent birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate if taken before and in the early stages of pregnancy. Read this article from the March of Dimes for more details. You doctor might give you vitamin samples if you request them.
Buy Life Insurance
Life Insurance is a necessity to protect your child's welfare should anything happen to you or your spouse. The chances of tragedy are very slim, but going without life insurance is not a risk any parent should take.
It can take several weeks for the life insurance to be in effect once you apply, so you need to find a reputable company as soon as possible. It's also wise to get it before you become pregnant. If you wait until you are, say, 6 months along and already gained weight, your cost will be significantly higher than if you were at your pre-pregnancy weight. To locate the best company for you, check out Zander. It is recommended by financial expert Dave Ramsey.
Go to the Dentist
Another thing to put on your to-do list is a trip to the dentist. Some periodontal diseases can increase your risk of pregnancy complications. It is important to visit the dentist and get treatment if needed. You might need to get a cavity filled, or just a complete cleaning.
It's time to kick the habit. Smoking during pregnancy can slow fetal growth and increases the chance of having a low-birth weight baby. It also increases the risk of cerebal palsy, learning disabilities, and mental retardation. Also, a new study has shown the smoking right before pregnancy and during the early part of the first trimester may make the baby more likely to have congenital heart defects. For more details, read this information from the March of Dimes. Talk with your doctor for more advice on quitting smoking.
Say Buh-Bye to the Booze
It's time to give up drinking, at least for the next 10 months or so. (Personally, I believe you should stay away from alcohol for longer than that, but at least give it up while you're trying to conceive or pregnant.) Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can have devastating effects on your baby. If you read this article from the March of Dimes, you will learn that it may lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Children with FAS may have mental retardation, facial deformities and more. The good news is that it's preventable - just don't drink during pregnancy. If necessary find an Alcoholics Anonymous Group or get treatment from a substance abuse center.
Start Eating Nutritiously
It's time for diet makeover if you haven't been eating very healthy foods. While occasional junk food is okay during pregnancy, its best to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, protein, and foods rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
One excellent resource to check out is Baby-Fit. Click here to visit the web-site. It offers tools, resources, and articles to help you eat properly before and during your pregnancy. It's also wise to educate yourself on foods to stay away from.
Evaluate Your Environment
If you work in a job where you are exposed to radiation or dangerous chemicals, it is probably time to change your environment. Consult your doctor for more information.
Also, if you work with children who are frequently sick, discuss with your doctor the risks of catching illnesses during pregnancy. Ask you doctor about CMV (Cytomegalovirus). It is a virus, that if contracted during pregnancy, might cause birth defects. You doctor can test to see if you already have the immunity against the disease. Read this article for more information on CMV.
Check Your Medicine Cabinet
Some prescription medicines can harm to the baby if taken during pregnancy. This is another issue to address with your doctor. He/she can inform you of the risks of taking certain medications during pregnancy. You can also visit the Safe Fetus web-site right here to check on the safety of your medications.
While many overweight women do fine during pregnancy and deliver healthy babies, it is a good idea to be a healthy weight when you get pregnant. Losing weight can help you conceive sooner. It also lowers your risk of pregnancy complications.
Create a Savings Account
This is not a must, but it's nice to have some money in savings before you welcome a little one into the world. Babies can be very expensive - everything from insurance to food, diapers, medicine, clothing and much, much more can add up. Also, in the event of a job loss you don't want your baby's welfare to suffer. Therefore it's a good idea to have at least 3 months of savings set aside.
Find Our Your Insurance Coverage
Not all health insurance will cover maternity care. Therefore, it's a good idea to know if you have the coverage or not before you become pregnant. If you don't have it, see if you can purchase it, as some employers have a plan where you can add on coverage. If that's not a possibility, see if you qualify for Medicaid. If you don't, you'll need to pay the bill yourself, which can be a hefty price, but your baby is worth it.
Take a Vacation
Obviously, this one is a luxury and not a necessity. But, hey , this may be your last chance for an exciting vacation for awhile. If you can afford it, try to take a small (or even big) trip. Even a 2 day weekend getaway is a great idea. It will create memories and strengthen your marriage. If a vacation is not feasible, plan several date nights together.
Best Wishes as you plan for parenthood! Remember, it can take healthy, normal couples up to one year to conceive, and some couples may take longer. Consult with your doctor if you are concerned about your fertility. Good Luck!