Planning To Be Pregnant Some Time In The Future? Here Are Some Tips On How To Prepare Your Body For Pregnancy!
Give yourself the best chance for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby!
By Cevel Regis
Getting pregnant is not every woman’s dream but it is for some. The question is once you are one of those women eagerly awaiting your turn to bring forth a child, how long in advance should you start preparing your body. Late 2019, Bajan pop star Rihanna had an interview with Extra and spilled the tea on her plans for motherhood and even indicated that she has started taking supplements to prepare her body for pregnancy. “'I’m definitely feeling a shift. I’m growing up,' she continued. ‘There’s things that I’m paying attention to that I’ve never paid attention to. Like supplements. And working out. And hearing about my bones,” she said.
Siksè Women reached out to Dr. Shevon Joseph, OBGYN, Medical Director and Consultant Physician at Azalea Health, to get her views on a time frame as well as what steps hopeful mamas should take when planning for future pregnancies. Azalea Health provides quality obstetric and gynecological healthcare in Trinidad, including preventive medical care, nutritional needs, and health education.
Dr. Joseph highlighted that women who have plans for motherhood should practice healthy nutrition, take prenatal vitamins, cease all bad habits among other things. “Anyone who isn’t preventing pregnancy, is low key trying,” she said. “The moment that pregnancy becomes a possibility and it’s a pregnancy that you are invested in, then you should start preparations. Many times a woman may not recognise the pregnancy until she is a few weeks in and a lot of development is happening with the embryo within those first few weeks,” Dr. Joseph continued.
If you've decided to take the plunge into parenthood, wait just a second – or even a month or more. To give yourself the best chance for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, here are some important things you need to do before you head down the road to conception.
Nutrition is extremely important before and during pregnancy. Pretty much everything you put in your body has to make sense, from a nutritional standpoint. “There are certain nutrients, vitamins, such as folic acid that would be crucial for the developmental needs of the baby,” advised Dr. Joseph.
Most acne medications or anything that contains Vitamin A, retinoic acid are category X medication should be avoided. “These drugs are harmful to the fetus, they are what we call teratogenic, meaning it will take a formed pregnancy and cause deformities such as bone and facial deformities,” Dr. Joseph warned. Some blood pressure and diabetic medications are also category X, so it is very important that you discuss sex with your General Practitioner. Once they are notified of any chance of pregnancy then there are adjustments that usually can be made.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
It is advised that anyone who has an inkling in mind of a pregnancy, should start taking a prenatal vitamin daily. Even if you may not get pregnant right away you are definitely going to benefit from fortifying yourself and improving any nutritional deficiencies that may have led to a miscarriage or even hyperemesis gravidarum - commonly known as morning sickness. “The big champion is folic acid daily. It is crucial to brain and spinal development which happens in the first trimester. It’s so important that it is incorporated into some flour and bread and other grocery store items,” Dr. Joseph added.
Managing Your Weight
If you are obese you may be prone to problems ovulating and have difficulty getting pregnant.“Obesity is also a risk factor for birth defects and miscarriages. It also increases your risk factor for diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy. ” said Dr. Joseph. So improving and maximising what you can do from a weight standpoint would reduce those risk factors mentioned above.
Cease ALL Bad Habits
You must stop consuming alcohol, smoking and taking drugs when preparing your body for pregnancy. “There is something called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. If you speak to a mother with a child who suffers from that problem, it’s a long term issue that you have to deal with daily. FAS causes a child to suffer from developmental delay, cognitive dysfunction, specific disabilities - meaning the way the child looks, there is a specific way the mouth is shaped, different facial features,” Dr. Joseph said. “You have to drink a fairly large amount of alcohol daily for a child to develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I can’t quantify how much will be a lot so if you are trying to conceive, it’s better to stay away from alcohol completely. From a nutritional standpoint reducing alcohol is better for health purposes,” she continued.
Dr. Joseph went on to explain that smoking from a fertility standpoint can affect the way the fallopian tubes function and the way the egg is allowed to travel through the tubes to allow fertilisation. Heavy smokers may have an issue with conception because heavy smoking can affect ovulation, impact estrogen and cause imbalances that may affect fertility. Even after you conceive, smoking has some really harmful effects on pregnancy.
Update Your Vaccination Record
There are specific viral illnesses that can impact an unborn fetus such as measles, chicken pox and rubella. Updating your vaccination record, especially if you are trying to conceive, is extremely important. Drt. Joseph noted that “You should do it a time when it is safe because once you conceive you can’t be immunised. One example is rubella, it’s a form of measles and all of us would have gotten this vaccine at primary school level. But some vaccines can expire and if you are rubella non-immune, you should get your immunity improved by getting vaccinated and then try to conceive,”
Review Family Genetic History
A lot of couples tend to overlook their family genetic history. When planning a pregnancy you should ask questions. What is his genetic family history? Does he have sickle cell in his family history? Do I have it in mine? What illness do our respective families have. Not necessarily impacting the fact that you will get pregnant but it is a good idea to understand any potential risk as well. There are also genetic counselling services that can be used.
Are You Advanced Maternal Age?
Women who are specifically over the age of 35 are considered to be at an advanced maternal age. Even those who are 35 by the time they give birth fall into this category. Dr. Joseph added “the advanced maternal age does have very crucial risk factors in terms of genetic and chromosomal anomalies.” The one that jumps out as the most prevalent is down syndrome. “About 1 in 700 babies is born with Down syndrome. A woman of any age can have a baby with Down syndrome. But a woman is more likely to have a baby with Down syndrome the older she gets or if she has a close family member with the condition. For example, a woman at age 42 risk of having a down syndrome child is 1 in 40. She will need to understand the potential risks and be informed of the testing options when she conceives. This is not a deterrent for older women who want to get pregnant. If you want to, you definitely should. A lot of older women get pregnant and have healthy pregnancies while on the other hand a 19 year old can have a very unhealthy pregnancy, depending on her overall health factors.”