Is it time to plan your Pregnancy

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Image credit: www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/AdeneSanchez

When planning to become pregnant, there are two ways to get pregnant. The first one is to simply try to get pregnant and figure it all out as you go along, and the other path is to plan the various steps toward becoming pregnant in a healthy way. 

Planning to start a family and become pregnant is a process unlike any other. You should prepare for various changes to your body, how to maintain good health, and changes to your lifestyle. There are three key components to planning for a pregnancy: parenting talk, physical and mental well-being, and financial planning. 

Have a parenting talk where you discuss the short and long-term decisions about having a family and raising children. Don’t worry if you and your partner aren’t on the same page about everything. It’s essential to have the dialogue to set a foundation you each can work from. 

Next is both partners’ physical and mental well-being before, during, and after pregnancy. The third factor is the financial planning that goes into having and raising a family. 

Parenting Talk

The first and foremost thing to do before attempting to get pregnant is for couples to have parenting discussions. Items for discussion include religious observations such as circumcisions, division of chores and childcare around the house, work vs. stay-at-home, and, just as important, the need for you and your partner to have occasional couples time post-pregnancy. You’ll also want to discuss various parenting styles of discipline, educational goals, and whatever the future may hold for you and your family. 

In other words, you must talk about priorities and expectations with your partner before becoming pregnant. This talk is foundational for the rest of your life as a family and is an important starting point before attempting to become pregnant. 

Conceiving Health Plan

Before you attempt becoming pregnant, you and your partner should discuss it with your respective primary care physicians and OB/GYN. In addition, you want to determine if there are any underlying medical concerns related to a possible pregnancy and the overall health of each partner. 

Once you get your medical exam, it’s time to begin planning your pregnancy. 

  • Stop taking birth control: Stopping birth control a couple of months before trying to conceive is ideal. 
  • Track menstrual cycle and ovulation peaks: Knowing your menstrual cycle will help you determine your peak ovulation window to conceive, or about 14 days before your period.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and/or smoking: Cutting back will enhance your chances of pregnancy as these drugs all limit the ability to conceive in both men and women. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight: It’s crucial to maintain a healthy weight as prescribed by your doctor, but what’s also important is that you don’t do anything drastic in changing your body weight, such as a significant diet to lose weight. 
  • Avoid strenuous exercise: Strenuous exercise like H.I.I.T – High-Intensity Interval Training is great for the body’s overall health and wellness. However, strenuous exercise can disrupt the body’s menstrual cycle, making conception more difficult. 
  • Have sex every other day when ovulating: Having sex every other day (or possibly every day) during ovulation is shown to have the highest conception rate for people trying to become pregnant.
  • Take prenatal supplements and vitamins: Adding prenatal vitamins to your daily routine is beneficial for improving the nutritional needs of both the mother and the fetus before, during, and post-pregnancy. 
  • Sleep more: Sleep does a variety of things for the body. For example, it helps with emotional wellbeing and hormonal balance, reduces stress, and repairs the body and mind, among many others.
  • Reduce stress and work on daily low-impact stress reduction exercises: Lowering stress helps the body conceive and is crucial for women once they become pregnant. 
  • Get pregnancy tests: it should go without saying that having pregnancy tests on-hand and at home is a no-brainer if you’re trying to conceive. However, keep in mind that these tests can be expensive, so consider shopping for pregnancy tests in bulk to save a little money. 

The key here is don’t make any sudden or drastic changes, especially related to your weight. But limiting alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes and focusing on your health are crucial for the well-being of the mother and the fetus. Likewise, don’t go overboard with dietary and exercise changes. Instead, make slow, steady changes that you can maintain for the pregnancy and beyond. 

Setting a Budget

One of the things all new parents realize is just how expensive pregnancy and giving birth are, so begin budgeting for pregnancy and post-pregnancy bills and needs right away: 

Of course, there are bills you can expect, and then there are bills that just happen without warning. Pregnancy can be expensive, so discuss what they may cover and what out-of-pocket costs may exist with your insurance. Costs such as prenatal care, hospital stays, medical exams, and the actual birth are all costs you need to know before becoming pregnant. Also, it’s important to be planning for contingency bills after the pregnancy, and post-birth would be prudent.

Analyze Your Living Situation

Before becoming pregnant, take stock of your living situation. Is it conducive to pregnancy? What about post-pregnancy, is your home going to be a safe place for your child, or should you consider moving? 

Realistically analyze the space you’re living in, and decide if it’s appropriate for the pregnancy and to raise a child. For example, you may want a more quiet area or a home with an extra room, whatever your needs are and what may fit within your budget. Thinking about starting a family is both exciting and nerve-racking. 

It can be a stressful experience if you don’t have a plan in place that helps navigate all the unknowns. Taking time to discuss the expectations and decisions with your partner ahead of time will help alleviate some of the stress that can accompany pregnancy and is the first thing that couples should look to do. 

Once that discussion takes place, be flexible and adaptive as you attempt to conceive. But those conversations are the cornerstones for you and your partner being able to navigate all the other things that will come along with a pregnancy.

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