‘Planning’ is the buzz word in the world today, and potential mothers, now ready to take the plunge into the world of motherhood, have lots of questions on how to prepare for a healthy baby. So it’s time to clear your doubts and get answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions that a baby-planner may have.
There are millions of women who have gotten pregnant without the benefit of going to a gynecologist first. So it’s not as if you’ll be hugely affected if you don’t go to one. But given our lifestyles, the changing times, the pollution in the cities that we live in, as well as easy access to doctors today, it would be a good idea to go and see one so that they can give you a heads up to go ahead with the pregnancy.
The gynecologist can give you all the information that you need to start the process of getting pregnant as well as all the vitamins that you will need to ensure a healthy womb for you baby to occupy! An ultrasound of the uterus and the ovaries will check for any abnormalities that need to be corrected before you decide to get pregnant.
You doctor will ask you to do some blood tests that you should do to rule out any future problems that may present themselves. For example, if you are not carrying the antibodies to Rubella (German measles), then you can correct that because once you are pregnant, there’s nothing you can do about it. Also vaccinations for Hepatitis B, Chicken pox, Influenza and even H1N1 can be given if you already haven’t got those. Checks for the thalassemia genes are also essential since if both of you carry the genes, and then the baby has a high chance of having it. That’s something you may want to think about before conceiving. Other routine tests are for HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, hemoglobin, thyroid, Rh factor and other routine tests. Although most of these are uncommon, they are better off ruled out earlier rather than later. All it involves is making one visit to the doctor.
Now that you’re planning the pregnancy, you should definitely lose the weight before. Even though that may sound really difficult and a bit pointless since you will put the weight back on, trust us, it’s worth the effort. Secondly, keep in mind that you will put on around 10-12 kilos through your pregnancy, although figures vary for different women. Some end up putting on 20; some lesser than 10. It’s always better to be in good shape before you conceive, so that you don’t go overweight in your pregnancy.
Also once you have a good exercise regime, you can continue to exercise (not strenuously) during your pregnancy – definitely a healthy option for both mother and child. And think about the advantages to your own body. After the delivery, it’ll be easier to lose the flab!
Before trying to get pregnant, you have to understand how the pill works on your body. Hormones in the pill prevent the release of your egg.
So it’s best to get off the pill for about four to five months before you start trying for a baby and let your cycle get re-establish, lest you end up with quadruplets! Also no need for worry because for those women who go off the pill, fertility rates after the right amount of waiting are the same as for women who have never been on the pill.
After a miscarriage, most physicians advise a wait of two to three months for the body to heal and become strong enough for another pregnancy. Conceiving too soon may lead to another miscarriage since you’re system is still recovering from the last one. So wait for a few months, eat well, get stronger, and when you feel good enough to try, then go ahead.
The most fertile time for women to conceive is around the days they are ovulating. Doctors recommend intercourse every second day while you’re ovulating. Normally this happens on day 14 of your menstrual cycle which begins on the first day of your periods. If you have regular periods (that is a 28 day cycle usually) with the predictable amount of flow, then you’re ovulating normally, so keep track of when day 14 is. If there’s no fertilization, then your periods will start 14 days after you ovulate.
If you have a longer cycle, say a 34 day cycle, then ovulation won’t happen till 20, again 14 days before the start of you next period. Complicated? Not so much. Just keep track of your cycle for a few months and you’ll eventually figure out when you’re ovulating. Another way to identify when you're ovulating is by keeping track of any changes to your vaginal secretions which usually become wetter, thinner and clearer. Also your vagina and vulva will feel wet. By monitoring these changes, you may be able to estimate when you are ovulating. But it’s tough to be sure, so don’t worry about it too much.
You could also use an Ovulation Predictor Kit or Ovulation Sticks, which predict the onset of ovulation by checking your urine, and are usually quite reliable. But if your periods are irregular you may end up going through a lot of these sticks!
You’ll be surprised to learn that trying for up to two years can be considered normal before conception. All couples have different results and there’s no real ‘normal’ figure. So don’t worry about it because the more you worry, the more hyper you are, and the lesser chances of your body being relaxed enough to get pregnant. Just try and keep track of your ovulations dates so that you can have sex at the right time.
So if after one year you’re getting nowhere, then it’s a good idea to go and see a doctor or perhaps an expert to find out if there is something wrong or if there’s something you can do that will help you conceive. Sometimes it’s a minor problem that can be corrected with medication.
Stop smoking the moment you decide you want to have a baby. Waiting for at least one month before you start to try for a baby is a good idea since the nicotine should be completely out of your system when you get pregnant in order to avoid any adverse affects on the baby.
Smoking can reduce your chances to get pregnant by up to 40%. Compared to non-smokers, women who smoke usually have to wait almost two months longer until they successfully conceive. Even a few cigarettes a day can delay a successful conception, so stop right away.
Although pregnancy is safe after the age of 35, your age is likely to reduce your fertility. After the age of 35 there is a decrease in the number and the health of the eggs to be ovulated. Also changes your hormones can alter ovulation.
Lesser frequency of intercourse and other problems like endometriosis and ovarian cysts may interfere with conception.
This is not to say that women over 35 have difficulty in conceiving. You may have to try for a longer period of time and be prepared for a higher than average risk of having a miscarriage (which is associated with women over 35) by being extra careful.
And that’s the big advantage of planning. You get to avoid the risks and prepare for what you know is the best and the safest way for you to have a nice healthy pregnancy and an equally healthy baby. So the next time you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor. A few precautions can go a long long way. Happy pregnancy to you!