Every couple who makes the decision to have a child doesn’t initially realize what steps they should take to achieve this goal and make the process as stress-free as possible.
Here’s a preconception must-do list that you should keep handy:
1) Visit your doctor
If you are planning to get pregnant, the very first thing that you should do is visit your doctor. Your doctor can do a thorough physical examination of both you and your spouse to check your health and fertility. He/she can also advise you on properly timing your sexual intercourse when you are fertile/ovulating as well as determine certain lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to ensure fertility.
2) Get parenting advice from relatives and friends who have families
You and your spouse might want to consider getting parenting advice from relatives and friends who already have families. They can give you an idea on what to expect when you get pregnant and after. These would include what to expect during the nine months of pregnancy, the delivery itself, the responsibilities of taking care of a child, the financial aspects, etc. After all, nothing beats firsthand experience.
3) Have a frank parenting talk with your spouse
If you are determined to have a child, you and your spouse should sit down and have a heart to heart talk. Just a few of the parenting issues that you need to discuss are sharing child care chores, choosing a religion for the child (if you and your spouse have different religions), possible conflicts regarding continuing work against staying at home to care for the child, and dealing with the finances for the pregnancy, delivery, and your child’s future.
4) Work out a financial strategy
Even before you get pregnant, you and your spouse should already work out some form of financial plan. For example, the working spouse/s should agree on an amount of money that will be taken out of the salaries and saved for the pregnancy, preparation for the baby’s arrival (including preparing a room, buying cribs and other stuff that the baby would need, etc.), delivery, and possible complications that may occur at childbirth.
Work on Your Fertility
1) Get off birth control
If you are planning to get pregnant, doctors recommend that you get off any birth control method, particularly the pill, two to three months prior to trying to conceive. You need to get hormone levels that affect your menstrual cycle back to normal so that you will be able to determine when you are ovulating. If after three months, you still haven’t had a period, you need to see your doctor.
2) Boosting fertility in the spouse
Men should also do their part to boost their fertility. For one, cellphones should be kept out of pockets and laptops off laps because the radio waves can affect not only their testes, but also the quality of the sperm. You can also eat fertility boosting foods like pomegranate.
3) Timing sexual intercourse
It is important for the couple to time their sexual intercourse when the woman is most fertile. In a woman with a normal, regular menstrual cycle, this takes place between Day 10 and Day 17, or 12 to 16 days before the start of the menstrual period and the five days that precede it. While doctors advise that couples should have frequent sex, having intercourse every other day will suffice.
Lifestyle and Home Environment Changes
1) Eat a healthy diet
Both spouses should eat a healthy diet. It is important to eat more of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish rich in DHA and Omega-3 fatty acids. You should also eat fertility boosting foods such as bananas, asparagus, pomegranate, shellfish, eggs, almonds, and tofu. Intake of sugars and processed foods should be limited or restricted entirely.
Although it is debated upon by doctors and researchers, it is better to limit your intake of caffeine as it can induce miscarriages when drinking too much. March of Dimes recommends that your caffeine intake should be limited to 200 mg per day or the equivalent of just one cup of coffee.
2) Scale back on the partying both before and during pregnancy
Even before you get pregnant, it is necessary that you and your spouse stop smoking and drinking. Smoking 20 or more cigarettes daily and/or breathing in second hand smoke will prevent you from becoming pregnant. If you are undergoing fertility treatments, it can also lead to very poor results. Stopping smoking will immediately restore fertility. Excessive alcohol intake also interferes with fertility and can lower the sperm count in men. The effects of both during pregnancy are much worse. Smoking and/or breathing in second hand smoke can increase your risk for miscarriages and puts the infant at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and birth defects. Drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Premature Birth, low birth weight, stillbirth and miscarriage.
3) Strive to get more sleep
Before the baby arrives, it is strongly advised that you and your spouse stock up on sleep in preparation for the sleepless nights head. Get naps whenever you get an opportunity. Have longer sleep times during weekends.
4) Come up with a stress relief plan
Once you have a child, you and your spouse may find yourselves overwhelmed by stress. Early on, determine what activities that you can do individually and as a couple to relieve stress. You can get into yoga or other meditation techniques. Or you can set up a dinner or movie night twice a month.
5) Involve interested and willing parties in your pregnancy and after
Having a child should not be your solo responsibility. There is nothing that in-laws, relatives and close friends want more than to help you with your child. When things get a little rough, invite your parents or siblings over. They’ll be more than happy to take care of your child, even if it’s only for an hour or two so that you can nap.
6) If you are working, talk to your boss
If both spouses are working, you might want to talk to your boss or at the very least look into the childcare policies that your company has in place. Some companies may allow you to take an extended leave to take care of your child. Others even have actual childcare services within the building so that you can bring your child to work and not have to worry because a company nurse or babysitter is watching after him/her.
7) Remove environmental hazards in your home
Make sure that you do a thorough inspection of your home. Early on, you can already determine where to put up baby proof barriers and other protective devices. You should also store in the garage pesticides, poisons, and other chemicals that can have a detrimental effect on both fertility and pregnancy.
8) Make your coming pregnancy a happy and memorable one
You and your spouse should share in the joy of anticipating your coming child. Get that camera ready for all those funny pregnancy moments, such as seeing yourself waddle around the house with your big belly. If you have a video camera, you can virtually capture the changes taking place in your body. For example, you can take photos or videos of yourself as your belly gets bigger and bigger. You can also be together when buying stuff for the baby, including the crib, baby clothes, toys, etc. or when decorating baby’s room.