Getting your body ready for a baby

Are you hoping to become pregnant by Mother’s Day 2018? If you and your partner have made the life-changing decision to try to have a baby, here are some steps you should take in 2017 to ensure you will be receiving a Mother’s Day card and flowers in the future.

Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician
It is important to know if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, which might affect your pregnancy or those influencing fertility, including sexually transmitted diseases or a thyroid condition. Also this appointment will be an opportunity to discuss with your doctor the prescription medications you are taking and whether to continue them when you conceive, as well as to update your immunizations and get a flu shot.

Supplement with folic acid to prevent birth defects
One of the most effective ways to insure your baby does not develop neural-tube defects, such as the deadly neurological condition of spina bifida, is to supplement your diet with 600 mcg/0.6 mg of folic acid daily. You can take folic acid supplements or buy a multi-vitamin that contains it. Once you get pregnant, your obstetrician will increase the dosage to 800 mcg/0.8 mg, which can be obtained in a prenatal vitamin.

Maintain a healthy weight with a nutritious diet
You don’t need to start eating for two before you become pregnant, but we suggest following the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians/Gynecologists) guidelines for practicing healthier eating habits with a balanced diet of the five food groups supplemented by eating foods rich in iron, calcium and Vitamin D.

However, if you are overweight or underweight, this is the time you should take action to lose or gain weight so you can achieve a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) and optimize your chances of getting pregnant as well as be as physically fit as possible during pregnancy.

Think about your family genes
Members of certain ethnic or racial groups should undergo genetic testing to rule out being carriers of serious inherited diseases such as Tay Sach’s (Jewish) or sickle-cell anemia (African-American). A genetic counselor can review your family medical history to determine if further testing is needed based on your family history.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle
You don’t have to stop having fun, but we advise all reproductive-age women to adopt a healthier life style. Stopping smoking is one of the single best things you can do, helping to prevent prematurity and underweight babies. You also should moderate/stop drinking alcohol and, it goes without saying, taking recreational and illegal drugs.

Make sure the father of your child-to-be also prepares
Often, prospective dads are left out of the conversation about pre-conception planning. They too should go for a physical – something, men frequently neglect – as well as take important steps to make sure they are stopping smoking, drinking excessively or taking recreational drugs, such as marijuana, that could affect their sperm count.

Take a fertility assessment test
Many fertility clinics, including HRC, offer pre-conception patients the opportunity to have their fertility potential evaluated. We will check a woman’s egg supply/ovarian reserve with anti-mullerian hormone and follicle stimulating hormone tests as well as analyze your male partner’s sperm.
Good luck as you prepare for one of the most exciting phases of your life!