The movies make it seem like getting pregnant is NBD. But the truth is that it can be a little tricky, particularly if you’re uninformed or misinformed. Even if motherhood seems light years away for you, it’s never too soon to get familiarised with what you need to know about getting pregnant!
Take Folic Acid Supplements
These yellow tablets are saviours for anyone trying to get pregnant. Folic acid contains folate, which is critical for your baby’s brain and spinal cord formation. The process of organ formation starts before you miss your period and learn that you are pregnant. Even with a healthy lifestyle, it can be difficult to meet increased nutritional requirements of folate through your daily diet alone. It’s recommended you start taking a tablet of 400-mcg folic acid daily, for at least a month before you become pregnant. It’s also important to remember that since most pregnancies are unplanned, all women of childbearing age should be taking folic acid supplements regularly.
A deficiency of folic acid can cause:
This is an incomplete closure of a baby’s backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. This causes babies to swell up on their lower backs. A baby suffering with this will live but needs to undergo surgery after birth. The baby will have poor walking abilities and bladder problems as well as issues with bowel control.
This means the incomplete development or absence of a major portion of the brain, skull and scalp. There is no cure or treatment for anencephaly and the prognosis of these babies who suffer from this condition is death. Most anencephalic babies don’t survive birth. If they are not stillborn, they will be unable to survive for longer than a few hours or days.
These neural tube defects are mainly caused by genetic or environmental factors but a lack of folate is a big risk factor. In at least 50% of the cases, taking folate supplements can prevent disorders such as these.
Track Your Ovulation
Knowing when you are likely to ovulate will help you find the best time to conceive a baby. You can check your fertile window by using online ovulation calculators or any other menstrual cycle tracking app.
Having a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, good quality proteins and low-fat dairy products is important. A healthy life for a baby starts with a healthy mother.
Cut Your Cravings
Cravings early on in your pregnancy are totally normal but do not eat the cake – literally. Empty calories from candies, desserts, fried foods, ice creams, processed cereals, hot dogs, and soft drinks will not help you.
Be Careful What You Consume
Stay away from fish that contains a high level of mercury such as shark, swordfish or canned white tuna. Instead, opt for fish lower in mercury such as salmon, tilapia and trout. Mercury can affect the development of your baby’s brain. Furthermore, certain foods contain bacteria called Listeria and a parasite called Toxoplasma – you should definitely be avoiding these foods because pregnant women are 20 times more likely to catch an infection from these foods. These parasites are present in soft cheese, cold meats, pre-prepared salads, raw eggs, unpasteurised raw milk and refrigerated smoked seafood. If you feel like you’ve caught the flu or have a stiff neck, consult your obstetrician immediately as you may have an infection and will need antibiotics immediately.
Practice Good Food Hygiene
This includes: sanitizing your hands before handling food, washing your knives, countertops and cutting boards after handling uncooked food, rinsing any raw food thoroughly under running water before consuming it, preparing food till it is completely cooked and wearing rubber gloves while handling raw meat.
This applies whether you are trying to get pregnant or not! Your body needs water to function properly. But drinking enough water becomes two times more important and critical as you prepare for a child. American Pregnancy Association suggests expecting mommies to drink at least 10 glasses of water daily. So get in the habit of carrying a water bottle around with you no matter where you go.
Don’t worry ladies! You can still enjoy your daily dose of caffeine every now and then. But in the early stages of your pregnancy, most health experts recommend not to have more than 200 mg of caffeine per day. That is equivalent to two cups of tea, one cup of espresso or one mug of instant coffee.
Do Not Handle Cat Litter
Do not get a new cat once you are pregnant. You should also avoid playing with stray cats and any cats you are unfamiliar with. Cat litter carries bacteria, which can be harmful to you, so if you already have a pet cat, always wear rubber gloves while handling their litter or ask someone else to help you with it. Additionally, keep your cat(s) away from your kitchen counters!
Take out the time for a quick walk, a light jogging or a swim session – just be careful not to overdo it! Too much exercise can lead to a hormone imbalance which makes it harder to conceive.
Manage Your Weight
Your chances of getting pregnant are reduced if you are overweight! To calculate what your ideal body weight should be, calculate your body mass index (BMI). According to the World Health Organisation, an ideal BMI is between 18.5 to 24.99
If you or your partner are smokers, planning for a baby is a great reason for both of you to quit! Smoking is scientifically linked to premature birth, a low birth weight of the baby and sudden infant death syndrome.
The fast-paced nature of your life coupled with a desire to bring a baby into this world can leave you feeling stressed and tired. Be sure to reduce your stress levels by talking to your friends and family, doing yoga, exercising or doing a quick meditation session whenever you can. Studies show that stress is directly associated with reproductive failures, absence of ovulation and spontaneous miscarriages.