When we first tried to conceive our first baby in 2002, I was completely clueless. I didn’t know much about being pregnant and what to expect.
I didn’t know any first time mums, I didn’t know how to look after a baby and I didn’t know anything about typical child development. I didn’t know there was a term called “stay at home mum” and I didn’t know there was such a thing as a “healthy pregnancy”.
We conceived in our first month of trying, and I realised that I wasn’t completely ready to be pregnant. I had to learn everything as I went along – through reading books, magazines, talking to nurses, doctors, and other mothers.
It was only after I conceived, that I read about the things you should do to get your body ready for pregnancy. I was struck with the fact that I was pretty naive and ill-prepared, and it drove me to do something about it.
All the reading, research, and doing positive things towards my pregnancy really prepared me physically and mentally for the big day. It helped me feel more in control and confident, and less fearful and uncertain.
Experts recommend that if you are thinking of having a baby, you should do the following things to get your body ready for a healthy pregnancy:
Have a medical check up.
Your doctor is probably the best place to start. He or she will be able to discuss your individual medical history, circumstances, and put you on the right track.
Give up smoking, alcohol and drugs.
Research shows that smoking, high consumption of alcohol and the use of hard drugs can increase the risks in pregnancy, birth defects, development problems, disabilities, to name a few.
Get regular exercise.
A fit, healthy mother has a higher chance of having a healthy pregnancy.
Watch your weight
If you’re over weight, you may have an increased risk in developing high blood pressure, diabetes and other complications during pregnancy.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Try to stay off junk food and food high in salt, fat and sugar. Eat lots of vegetables, wholegrains, fruits, milk, making sure you get lots of the following vitamins:
Folic acid is important for the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Calcium is important for your baby’s growing bones, your own bone health, and to guard against calcium deficiency.
Iron is needed for your baby’s growth, and he/she will deplete your supply, leaving you tired and anaemic.
Fibre will help you maintain a healthy bowel, as most pregnant women experience constipation.
Reduce exposure to chemicals and pesticides
Eg. Weed killers, harsh cleaning fluids, and vapours from chemicals may effect your baby’s development.
Organise health insurance.
Doing a bit of research and organising your health insurance might save you money and headaches in the near future.
(We got caught out! We forgot to switch from a young couple’s insurance plan to a young family plan. Oh well.)
Take care of your emotional health.
I think this one is most important, and I stuck it in here (even though I’m not an expert). I really believe that you and your partner should talk about and enjoy the process of pregnancy and parenting together! Also establishing a network of family and friends who can support you is invaluable!
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