Deciding you’re ready to start a family is a big decision for any couple. Dr. Myron Bethel of Renown Women’s Health provides some helpful tips for parents-to-be.
Once you’ve made the decision to start a family. Now what? Myron Bethel, M.D., of Renown Medical Group–Women’s Health, explains how to prepare mentally and physically for conception, pregnancy and your new arrival.
Prepping for Pregnancy
What’s the first thing couples should do when they decide to start a family?
For the mom-to-be, it’s important to meet with your obstetrician before you conceive. This appointment gives you an opportunity to discuss your family medical history, any past or current health problems, medications you’re taking and any issues with previous pregnancies.
Your doctor can also provide helpful tips to ensure your body is ready for a healthy pregnancy and help guide you on how to monitor your period, basal body temperature and other important factors that can help a couple conceive more quickly.
What changes might a mom-to-be need to make before conception?
Pregnancy is a big change for your mind and body, so it’s important to start making changes to a healthier lifestyle before you start trying to get pregnant.
If you don’t exercise already, start a basic exercise regimen such as walking three to four times per week. Starting this early and continuing through your pregnancy will help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce swelling and back pain.
Begin taking a prenatal vitamin or folic acid. These vitamins help ensure a healthy pregnancy, preventing birth defects of the brain and spine.
And if you use drugs, alcohol or smoke, now is the time to stop. It’s also important to know exposure to toxins in pesticides and household cleaning products can harm your and your partner’s reproductive systems and potentially lead to birth defects, so avoid these as much as possible.
What about preparing mentally?
Choosing to start a family is a big decision. If you haven’t already, talk with your partner about your parenting ideas. Will you both work or will one of you stay home? What methods of discipline do you believe in? It’s okay if your ideas differ, just keep in mind now is a good time to start finding middle ground and make sure you’re both on the same page when the baby arrives.
Starting to practice meditation and breathing techniques can prove helpful, not just for the baby’s delivery, but also to help relieve stress heading into pregnancy.
And lastly, try to stay open and flexible about your pregnancy. Much like you cannot control the movements of the baby inside you, you have to be flexible with what pregnancy does to you, physically and emotionally. Mothers who seem to do the best during conception and pregnancy are ones who aren’t strict with their expectations and are open to trying new things.
What do you suggest for couples struggling to conceive?
First, it’s important to remember that getting pregnant can take longer than you expect, and not to get stressed out or blame yourself or your partner. Seventy percent of couples conceive within six months and 85 percent within one year.
To help improve your chances of conceiving, it’s important to track your ovulation closely. You can do this by tracking your period, watching your body closely and logging symptoms and your basal body temperature or by using ovulation kits. If you still aren’t sure when you’re ovulating, try to have intercourse every other day to improve your chances of conception.
If you’ve been trying for a year or more, you can talk to your obstetrician about options and discuss meeting with a fertility specialist.
Learn more about women’s health and pregnancy care online at www.renown.org/explore/womens-health/.