How to Get Ready for Pregnancy? 8 Important Things to Consider
“Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” - Elizabeth Stone.
While the pregnancy news is usually welcomed as a sweet surprise, it is one of the biggest decisions a couple might take, so it would be even better if its planned.
Here are some things that need to be considered when planning for pregnancy.
1. The Talk -
Though often skipped, this is the most important step when planning. A heart to heart conversation about when the couple wants to start this process. While there would always be factors like societal or family pressure or ticking of the biological clock, it is very important that there is complete transparency between the couple about being parents. Since its them who would be responsible for bringing a new life to this world and for the child's well being its very important that both the “would be” parents are fully on board.
2. Plan your finances -
Once its established that the couple wants to go ahead with having a baby, the next most important step is planning the finances. Its always good to be optimistic but its smart to be realistic. While the obvious expenses that come to our mind are doctors visits, medicines and tests, it is important to account for any medical procedures that could happen (like os tightening is common with pregnancies in mid 30’s) as well as specific nutritional supplements, maternity clothes and skincare which are meant for endeavouring mothers to nourish their particular needs. Discuss the ground reality and plan accordingly along with a buffer.
3. Consult an expert -
This involves talking to a family doctor and getting clarity about ovulation and how to monitor it for successful conception . The couple could also seek their family doctor’s help for deciding a Gynaecologist if they haven’t consulted one before. It is important that you get clarity on topics such as some routine tests like Hb, hormonal assay for both, TORCH test for aspiring mothers and others that the doctor would recommend. Including folic acid 5mg is also a good idea in the pre-conception phase (this could avoid any neural defects in the foetus) and discuss with your doctor if any supplements are required to meet any deficiencies.
Also check the list of items to avoid which includes but is not restricted to preservatives especially found in oriental and packaged food, alcohol and smoking (both active and passive). It is very important that the couple feels comfortable with the doctor since he/she is going to be an integral part of this journey.
4. Dental Appointment -
Make sure you visit your dentist for a routine check up. The pathology of Dental problems are usually slow and silent. It manifests after substantial damage is already done and at this point the pain is excruciating. Please bear in mind that a lot of dental procedures are not recommended during pregnancy since the use of X-ray, pain killers and antibiotics is restricted. This mindful check up can rule out any ongoing problem which is not noticeable yet and can be fixed timely to avoid dental discomfort during pregnancy.
Read more about - Get Your Prenatal Dental Check-up Now! Here’s Why…
5. Understanding the entire process -
While we have already discussed about the ‘Pre-conception’ phase which starts right from the time the couple decides to have a baby, it is important to understand in detail the next steps like ‘Pregnancy’ which happens right from the time the couple conceives followed by ‘Delivery’ and then ‘Postpartum’. It is important that the couple equips themselves with a fair idea about the changes and challenges that would ensue in order to celebrate this entire transition.
The journey from ‘conception’ is very fast paced and so its thoughtful to understand the steps in advance (during the pre conception phase) in order to rejoice those moments instead of getting overwhelmed. While the parents might not attend or treat any emergency by themselves, they need to have an overview of any possible medical emergencies and their symptoms in order to seek timely help. Just as I have mentioned before, its good to be optimistic but its smarter to be realistic.
6. Other Health Checklist -
Incase of ongoing medication for thyroid, diabetes, epilepsy etc make sure these levels are in check and get the dose adjusted by your physician in accordance to the upcoming pregnancy. Practise hip opening, back and core strengthening exercises / yoga at-least 3 months prior to conception to ease the pregnancy and delivery phase. Along with this, in the preconception phase itself start practising healthy routine like eating and sleeping on time, 45 mins of light exercise (preferably the one that can be continued during pregnancy like walk or certain yoga postures). Also get as close to your ideal body weight before conception since obesity can be a hidden factor for non conception. While obesity and being underweight can cause complications during pregnancy as well as during delivery.
Read more about - How To Prepare The Body For A Healthy Pregnancy?
7. Back to roots -
There are some cleansing procedures or Panchakarma therapies recommended in Ayurveda for Gabhotpatti (Conception) . These procedures like Nasya (Nasal Instillation), Snehan (Hot oil massage), Swedan (Steam with medicated herbs), Basti (Enema), etc. have conspicuous results in faster conception, Garbhasthapana (Foetus Stabilisation), as well as maintaining maternal health during pregnancy. These should be done at-least 3-6 months before you start actively trying.
Read more about - What Is Conception? Explore Trying To Conceive Tips
8. General vs Expert Advice -
In the process the couple might come across other couples’ experiences or advises from elders based on their wisdom, while they all would be absolutely right the couple in needs to understand that this wisdom and experiences are very subjective. So always reconfirm with the expert in that matter before implementing it. Do not resort to home remedies for fixing an ailment without being sure about it from a credible source. I would elaborate with an example here. Its recommended to sip on hibiscus tea (decoction made with boiling dried petals of hibiscus in water) as source of haemoglobin and micronutrients.
This is fine otherwise but this simple remedy can be hazardous during pregnancy since hibiscus when consumed internally has abortifacient effect. So, incase you need to confirm about a nutritional supplement or food, consult your dietician. When thinking about including herbs or Ayurvedic medicines make sure to consult an Ayurvedic doctor or Ayurvedic Gynaecologist. When taking OTC medicines you need to consult a Gynaecologist (Ayurvedic or regular).
Along with these guidelines it is essential that we condition our mind, body and relationships to embrace the changes only then can we be truly prepared to embark on this beautiful journey.
Author: Dr. Akanksha Kotibhaskar is a practicing Ayurvedacharya specialising in delivering four fold Ayurvedic treatment - Medicines, Dietary recommendations, lifestyle modification and Panchakarma therapy.