Making the decision to have a child is momentous. Having kids can be deeply rewarding, but parenthood comes with both joy and hardship.
So, before deciding on public vs. private schools, working vs. staying at home, or the different opinions on circumcision; take a moment to learn what you can do to make sure that your future pregnancy is planned and healthy, before you head down the road to conception.
Here are a few things to consider before you bid adieu to birth control:
Ask the big (and the little) questions. Talk to your partner and get to specifics before you fall pregnant. You don’t need to agree on everything, but you should try to agree on most things. Consider how it will affect your relationship, your lifestyle and your future. Explore your hopes and fears. How will you share the baby care and increased household load? What kind of parenting do you have in mind?
Money matters. It is often said that a lack of funds should not stop you from having a baby, but it is a factor in postponing one. You will be financially responsible for your child for at least 18 years, are you ready for that? For the immediate future you’ll have to consider the cost of pregnancy and delivery. Best to make sure that you are covered by a medical aid before falling pregnant. Remember if you join a medical aid after you become pregnant, you will not receive maternity coverage.
Go for a preconception check-up. Your practitioner will review your personal and family history, and any medications and supplements you’re taking. Certain medications and supplements are unsafe during pregnancy and need to be switched before you try to conceive.
Start taking a pre-natal multi-vitamin one month before conception and continue taking it for the first three months of pregnancy.
Stock your fridge with healthy foods. By making nutritious food choices your body will be stocked with the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. Aim for 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of veggies every day. Also include a variety of proteins such as beans, nuts, poultry and lean meats. Add foods rich in calcium like milk and yoghurt as well as whole-grains.
Get fit. Don’t confuse this with losing weight. A healthy body will handle the rigours of labour better. Start scheduling exercise into your daily routine to make your body strong.
Check your caffeine intake. Experts agree that pregnant women and those trying to conceive should avoid large amounts of caffeine. The recommended caffeine intake is no more than 200mg per day. So, either 1 strong espresso, 3 cups of instant coffee or 4 cups of strong tea.
Aim for a healthy weight. Having a low or high BMI makes it harder for some women to become pregnant.
Give up binge drinking, smoking and drugs. Moderate drinking (that’s one drink per day for women) is considered fine while trying to conceive. Research suggests that tobacco use can affect your fertility and lower your partner’s sperm count. Also, studies show that even second-hand smoke may reduce your ability to get pregnant.
Go to the movies, theatre, or see live music. Do whatever you love doing that involves going out at night, because, at least for a while you will not be able to.
Are you ready to take on this responsibility? Take the time you need to make the best decision for you and your family.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.