Have you ever heard the phrase, “you can never prepare for parenthood?” With the number of surprises associated with both pregnancy and parenthood, it would certainly be hard to argue with that. However, as scientists claim, there is a number of things you can take care of beforehand that are bound to make pregnancy and the first few days after childbirth a lot easier.
How to prepare the body for pregnancy
Preparing your body for pregnancy is all about focusing on factors that increase your chance of getting pregnant and ensuring that the baby is healthy. For that purpose, you should:
Make an appointment with your physician
Make sure to discuss both your history and current state of health with your physician. Cover everything that might affect your pregnancy, such as:
- Medications you are currently taking (including substances that have an indirect effect on your health, such as herbal medicine for weight loss);
- Whether or not you have suffered from complications during pregnancy;
- Whether or not you are suffering from a chronic disease or other health issues (for example, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, thyroid problem etc.);
- What steps you could take to ensure healthy fetal development. Sufficient levels of folic acid are vital for brain development, which is why doctors prescribe 400 mg of folic acid during pregnancy.
- What your lifestyle is like—whether or not your smoke tobacco or consume alcohol, live in a stressful or abusive environment and so forth.
- Vaccination: there is a number of vaccines that you should try to get before or during pregnancy, such as the anti-COVID-19 vaccine. Why is that, you might wonder. The coronavirus could potentially be fatal for both the future mother-to-be and the fetus, which is precisely why it’s imperative to get vaccinated.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle and try to regulate your weight
Being either underweight or overweight might lead to a number of complications during pregnancy, which is why it is important to eat healthy, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Exercise is good for overall wellness, makes it easier to give birth and allows you to get right back into shape after childbirth.
Consumption of tobacco, alcohol and a number of other substances poses risks to both mothers and babies. Consequences of substance abuse vary from early childbirth to issues with physical and mental development or even death of the newborn.
Avoid contact with chemicals
The environment is filled with a variety of harmful substances. Of course, it is virtually impossible to avoid contact with everything that is hazardous out there, including air pollution, but you must try your best to stay away from harmful chemicals (present in large quantities in household cleaning supplies), airborne metals, plant sprays or walls that are painted with lead-based paint etc.
Look into your family history
It might be a good idea to find out what pregnancy was like for your mother, whether or not they had trouble conceiving or maintaining the pregnancy or difficult childbirth. It is also good to know about any chronic genetic diseases that might run in the family.
That does not necessarily mean that you will encounter the same issues, but both you and the physicians treating you could benefit from this information by taking preventative measures.
How to prepare mentally for pregnancy
Mental health might be even more important than physical health and worth tending to. It is all about how you think, feel and tackle the many challenges you get to face each day.
Unfortunately, not many pregnant women focus on mental health and revert to a variety of wrong ways of dealing with psychological issues, such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco or complete oblivion towards self-care. All this has a negative effect on the fetus. Here is a number of things you could do to care for your mental health:
Take time to evaluate your mental health properly
Everyone might be anxious, worried or sad at times. Mood swings are particularly common among pregnant women. However, if you are worried or sad on a regular basis, this might be a sign of something more serious, in which case, it would be a good idea to speak to a specialist. The sooner you take measures to enhance your mental health, the sooner you will begin to feel better.
Take time to process potential consequences of pregnancy and childbirth
Preparing mentally for pregnancy and childbirth is an inseparable part of your journey. Setting realistic expectations is particularly important when it comes to matters such as weight gain, strange food cravings, irritability, various aches and changes in your appearance etc. Try to be realistic about the year after pregnancy, which, though filled with joy and lots and lots of positive emotions, might prove to be a mental, physical and even material burden.
Devise a plan
Once you have identified and processed all potential consequences of pregnancy and childbirth, try to think of solutions. Plan ahead by contemplating ways in which you might tackle potential issues that come up along the way.
Ask for social support
Communication with your partner (if you have one), family members and/or friends throughout your pregnancy is imperative. You could also benefit from conversations with those who are currently going through the same, such as pregnant women and new moms. You could join a number of different groups for such form of support, which is also accessible via social networks.
Yes, good physical and mental health is important, but try not to dwell on it. Simply listen to your body. Ask yourself how you feel and whether or not you are ready for this journey.
Do remember that it might take just a couple of months to get pregnant for some women, while others try for much longer and that is natural.
And if you are slightly worried, know that you are not alone. A degree of anxiety is normal—particularly with a first or unplanned pregnancy.