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10 Things Couples Should Do When Planning A Pregnancy

The journey to healthy pregnancy starts before conception. Schedule a pre-pregnancy checkup, take essential vitamins, and focus on healthy living. Here’s what else you need to do.

By D Tejaswi
22 May 2022

You know you’re ready. What next? Learning about things to do prior to getting pregnant improves both maternal and infant well-being. A paper published in StatPearls highlights that 200 million pregnancies that occur annually are unplanned. A preconception couselling and care guides the couple to identify risks and address the risk before preganancy. Importantly, a period of, at least 3 months prior to pregnancy, and between the two pregnancies is crucial to avoid adverse outcomes in women’s and child’s health, notes Demography, 2019.

The better you prepare, the more confidence you get.

 

Cheers to a good start! Read 10 things you should do when planning a pregnancy:

 

1. Know your cycle and ovulation signs: Get an understanding of your cycle length and fertile days. Most women ovulate once every 28-35 days. If you are someone with an irregular menstrual cycle (such as in PCOS), you should check with your gynecologist. Your doctor may prescribe a drug or offer other guidelines to stimulate ovulation.

 

In general, the cycle length varies due to changes in BMI, hormones, stress levels, eating and exercise habits. Maintain a balanced lifestyle and track your ovulation signs. Your basal body temperature increases, your cervix softens and you begin to notice a clear, thin cervical mucus during your ovulation window. Discuss these signs with your partner and talk to a health care provider for a well-timed conception.

 

Related Story: Can gut health affect hormonal balance?

 

2. Schedule a pre-pregnancy checkup: Whether you are someone with a normal or an irregular cycle, it is important to take an appointment with a health care provider to assess your and your partner’s health to prepare your body for pregnancy. The doctor may seek your family’s medical history, reproductive history, medications (both prescription and over-the-counter), and immunisation records for further analysis. He or she may suggest a few lifestyle changes and inform you about risk factors involved in pregnancy if any. The risks and complications are worked upon to find treatment.

 

3. Get right on nutrients: Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, pulses, and wholegrain products ‘abundantly’; having milk, dairy, eggs, low-fat meat, oily fish ‘moderately’; and consuming sweets, sugar-containing beverages, animal fats ‘sparingly’ helps you prepare right for pregnancy, notes Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd journal, 2018. Essentially, it is beneficial to include Vitamin B (dark greens, cheese, fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon), Vitamin C (broccoli, peppers, oranges, Brussel sprouts), Vitamin D (egg yolks, oily fish like salmon, read meat), Vitamin E (almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin) and calcium (dried figs, boiled chickpeas, moringa powder) rich foods. “High intake of folate, mono and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3), vegetables, iron and fish improves the chances of a viable pregnancy,” notes a study published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2018.

 

Related Story: Missing Your Ovulation Cycle—What Anovulation Means And When To Seek Help

 

4. Drink water for mucus hydration: Cervical mucus is 96 percent water. Advances of Contraception finds a strong correlation between mucus hydration and sperm penetrability. A study performed on a section of women found that once the hydration rose above approximately 97.5 per cent, there was a substantial increase in penetrability. Better hydration in the cervical mucus assists the sperm to travel and help you get pregnant.

 

5. Sleep for fertility: The part of the brain that regulates sleep-wake hormones also triggers ovulation in women and sperm maturation in men. So, for instance, if you are a woman and if you do not sleep well, it might delay the release of LH, a luteinizing hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle. Takeaway? Unwind, relax and focus on getting a good night’s sleep when planning a pregnancy. It’s a double win, for both overall health and fertility outcomes.

 

Related Story: 7 Ways To Recover From A Bad Night’s Sleep

 

6. Get moving to conceive: Seminars in reproductive medicine, 2020 finds that doing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking, low impact aerobics or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity such as running, cycling in a week maintains BMI, reduces stress, and improves motivation–thereby supporting healthy conception.

 

7. Consider supplements: International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, 2016 finds that supplements, especially a combination of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and CoQ10 intake improve semen parameters in men. Similarly, taking 400 mcg - 1000 mcg of folic acid helps prevent anemia. Folic acid also protects the future baby against neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

 

Related Story: 6 foods to boost female fertility

 

8. Surround yourself with positivity: When planning for pregnancy, you feel better when you are surrounded with positive people. You feel good when you cared for and encouraged by people you know and trust, says The Journal of Perinatal Education, 2009. For most couples, that means family or close friends.

 

Also, practicing positivity via imagery, yoga and affirmations prepares the mind and body for pregnancy. One of the positive daily affirmations could be, “My body and mind are open to new life.” or “I will focus on my wellness to support a healthy pregnancy.” Mind-body interventions benefits the women’s anxiety for pregnancy, finds Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

 

9. Talk to your partner to manage pre-pregnancy anxiety: It is natural to be anxious about getting pregnant. However, it is important to avoid letting anxiety take over you. Talk to your partner, share your emotions, maintain positivity. The journal Materia Socio Medica, 2016 highlights the need for good communication skills between the couple to reduce anxiety as a part of pre-pregnancy care.

 

10. Work towards managing your chronic illness: Ailments such as seizure disorders, diabetes, cardiac, renal disease, high blood pressure have an impact on pregnancy. Sharing your concerns with a healthcare provider during your pre-conception check-up helps you make a positive impact on perinatal outcomes, suggests StatPearls.

 

 

 

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