Because many women do not realize they’re pregnant until several weeks into their pregnancies, taking steps early makes all the difference.
Kick the Unhealthy Habits
Leaving your unhealthy behavior behind before pregnancy will make the nine months following conception much easier. If you smoke, quit as soon possible—whether you are pregnant or not, smoking poses major health risks. Cut down your alcohol consumption to a minimum, and after you begin trying to conceive, stop the drinking altogether.
You—and Your Baby—Are What You Eat
As you prepare to become pregnant, amp up your diet by adding plenty of vegetables, fruits, leafy greens and calcium-rich foods. These whole foods provide valuable nutrients for you and your baby. Skip the coffee and sodas—your caffeine consumption should be lowered to one soda or two cups of coffee daily. You should also aim for a healthy weight before conceiving, which will help eliminate weight-related problems that can arise during pregnancy. Your physician may also recommend taking prenatal vitamins that supplement your healthy diet with vitamins and folic acid, a nutrient that helps your baby develop in the womb and reduces the risk of birth defects.
Becoming pregnant doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be physically active. Exercise is healthful and encouraged before and during pregnancy. You should always keep the intensity at a suitable level to avoid becoming dehydrated or overheated. Speak with your physician about recommended forms of exercise and activity levels.
Keep Your Physician In the Loop
Your physician will be your partner during your pregnancy, so once you have chosen a specialist, keep him or her in the loop. Speak with your physician about your desires to become pregnant, and ask for medical advice based on your personal history. Knowing your medical history, any preexisting conditions and your pregnancy goals can help your physician guide your family in the right direction. You may also see your physician for a pre-pregnancy check-up visit and immunizations.
The Ultimate Delivery Checklist
The time has come, and your entire family is awaiting the arrival of your little one. Before your water breaks and contractions begin, use this checklist as a foundation for your hospital stay:
- Any paperwork you may need, such as health insurance forms or your formal birth plan
- Bathrobe and slippers
- Books, magazines and music to keep you relaxed
- Camera and extra batteries
- Car seat
- Cellphone charger
- Change for vending machines
- Changes of clothes for mom, partner and baby
- Flip-flops for the hospital shower
- Hair headbands, clips or ties
- Lip gloss or balm
- Nursing supplies, including maternity bras, nursing pads and nipple cream
- Snacks for your partner and family members who may be present
- Toiletries and medication
- Toothbrush and toothpaste