For thousands of couples across the U.S., 2019 is the year you’ll decide to venture into parenthood. Before you start this journey, take some time to make sure you are fully prepared.
1. Start eating for baby –It’s going to be easier to eat healthy during pregnancy if you start beforehand. Stock the fridge with more fruits and vegetables. Reduce the amount of red meat and trans-fats you consume and increase your intake of monosaturated fat with olive oil in place of salad dressing and eat avocados and nuts.
2. Start taking prenatal vitamins –Prenatal vitamins contain the recommended daily vitamins and minerals you’ll need before and during your pregnancy. They include folic acid to prevent neural tube defects and iron to make the extra blood supply that will provide oxygen to your baby. For women over the age of 35, it may also be helpful to take 400 milligrams of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and omega 3 daily, which have been proven to help with the health of the eggs in women over 35.
3. Start exercising –Similar to changing your eating habits, it’s best to start exercising before you’re pregnant. Moderate exercise, like walking, is a great option and will help you maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. It can also help increase fertility rates.
4. Schedule a preconception visit –You don’t have to choose your delivery doctor just yet, but a preconception check-up with your family doctor or ob-gyn is a good idea. They will review your personal and family medical history, your present health, and any medications or supplements you’re taking.
5. Check your immunity –Find out if you’re immune to common contagious viral infections such as rubella and chickenpox. If not, you’ll want to do so before conception. You can NOT get immunized for these infections during your pregnancy, and these diseases can be devastating for your baby.
6. Check your insurance –Pregnancy and delivery services are not cheap. Without insurance, a typical vaginal delivery can cost about $9,000, while a cesarean section procedure can cost around $15,000. Neonatal intensive care can cost $2,000 to $3,000 a day. If you have health insurance, give the company a call and find out what kind of prenatal coverage they offer. If you’re lucky enough to have a choice of plans, compare coverage and providers.
Insurances can also help provide financial help during maternity leave and assist with costs for things like breast pumps and car seats.
If you don’t have health insurance, call your local health department to see what programs and resources are available in your area to help pregnant women. Call 800-311-BABY (800-311-2229) for information on prenatal services in your area. (For information in Spanish, call 800-504-7081.)
7. Quit smoking –smoking during pregnancy won’t just affect you, it can have devastating effects on the baby. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can also increase the rate that a woman loses eggs. It can also harm a man’s sperm quality and count.
8. Quit the birth control –The type of birth control you’ve been using can determine how long it might take before you are able to conceive. For those using an IUD or barrier method like a diaphragm, you can start trying as soon as you stop using them. For those on the pill, you may start ovulating as quickly as two weeks after you stop. However, you could take a couple of months for your menstrual cycle to get back to normal.