There are a lot of lists out there, so I figured I would add my own. (Now, keep in mind, this list is not all inclusive, this is my list. I did leave out anything I have already done and anything I don’t need to do.1. Talk with my OB/GYN.
Your doctor should review your medical history, your health, and any medications you're taking before you start trying to conceive (TTC). Certain medications are dangerous during pregnancy, and some have to be switched before you even try to conceive because they're stored in your body's fat and can linger there. I take medications like Paxil, Xanex, and Hydrocone/APAP which most likely need to be removed from my system. (Luckily, none of them store up in my body.)
Your doctor should also discuss diet, weight, exercise, and any unhealthy habits with you. (I tend to smoke one cigarette about once a month. This would be a bad habit.) Your doctor should also recommend a multivitamin, make sure you're up to date on your immunizations; test you for immunity to childhood diseases such as chicken pox (which I had) and rubella (which I have been immunized for); and answer any questions you have.
2. Take folic acid (and watch out for vitamin A).
Also check to make sure that your multivitamin doesn't contain more than the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Getting too much of a certain kind of vitamin A can cause birth defects.
3. Give up drinking, most of the time.
Alcohol can get in the way of getting pregnant, so it's a good idea to cut back when you start trying. I don’t drink more than 10 margaritas in a year and the occasional (once-a-month beer), so I am okay. But you should abstain from alcohol all together during the last two weeks of your cycle in case you've conceived.
You should start making nutritious food choices now so that your body will be stocked up with the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. I am quite good about keeping most unhealthy food from my kids, but I like my ice cream every so often. What I am really bad at, though, is getting enough of the good stuff. I don’t eat. I tracked my calorie intake in September and I consume around 1300 calories a day. This is even below the recommended caloric intake to lose weight. I am just not hungry . . .
5. Give up coffee/caffeine.
Okay . . . problem. I love my coffee.
The March of Dimes advises pregnant women to limit their caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams per day, about the amount in one cup of coffee, depending on the brew. That would be a good goal to aim for now.
And since caffeine affects fertility as well, I wonder if the hubby should have to give up his too . . .
6. Get your weight in check.
Another problem . . .
You may have an easier time conceiving if you're at a healthy weight. I have been trying to get my weight on track (I am about 90 lbs overweight), but my IUD has prevented me losing any . . . Hopefully, I can get it on track pretty quickly after it’s gone. I need to talk to my doctor about the best way to lose weight while trying to conceive.
7. Pay attention to the fish you eat.
While fish is an excellent source of omega_3 fatty acids (which are very important for your baby's brain development, especially since I have a girl with ADHD, already), as well as protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients, it also contains mercury, which can be harmful.
Most experts agree that pregnant women should eat some fish, and that the best approach is to avoid fish that are the highest in mercury and limit your consumption of all fish. The FDA recommends that women of childbearing age not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish, and eat no more than 6 ounces (1 serving) of solid white canned tuna per week. I love my tuna, but I am okay with limiting it.
The FDA and EPA recommend that pregnant women eat up to 12 ounces (2 servings) a week of fish that are not high in mercury. (Good choices include herring, farm_raised rainbow trout, salmon, and sardines.) I love fish, but it’s usually tuna, so I need to do some adjusting to my diet there.
8. Create and follow an exercise program.
Start and stick to a fitness plan now. I have a hard time exercising. I HATE it. I hate exercising with a group and I don’t have the self-control to keep it up by myself. But I need a health body for me and baby and . . . working up a little sweat is a great way to relieve the stress that can get in the way of getting pregnant.
I need to ease into an exercise routine. Starting with something tame, like walking ten to 20 minutes a day. Add more activity into your daily routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car a few blocks away from work. (This would be good if I offer to start driving the ugly truck, which I have been too embarrassed to drive up ‘til now.)
9. See the dentist, in January.
Hormonal shifts during pregnancy can make you more susceptible to gum disease. Increased progesterone and estrogen levels can cause the gums to react differently to the bacteria in plaque, resulting in swollen, red, tender gums that bleed when you floss or brush. I didn’t have this problem before, but I have had a lot of tooth problems lately and I am expected to go back to the dentist in January for a root canal. Might as well get it out of the way ASAP.
10. Consider money matters.
Start saving now for the medical bills and added expenses of being pregnant and being a parent. The better prepared you are, the better and less stressed you and your family will be in bringing that little one into the world.
11. Consider your mental health.
Women who suffer from depression are twice as likely to have problems with fertility as women who don't. If you suffer depression, seek help. I have been clinically diagnosed with PTSD for more than half my life. I am currently medication free, but that can change at any time. This is definitely something to talk to my PCP about.
12. Get a flu shot.
Are you kidding me? I don’t think I have ever had this shot and (knock_on_wood) I only get the flu about every 8 years. However, getting the flu while pregnant can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia and pre term labor. With my recent lung struggles, I don’t want to risk pneumonia.
13. Figure out when you ovulate.
Some women simply stop using birth control when they're ready to get pregnant and let fate decide when they'll conceive. This would be great if I didn’t already know my "typical cycle." I have a very erratic cycle when not controlled by my IUD. The more research I do the more I wonder if I even ovulate every cycle.
14. Toss your birth control.
Going off hormonal contraception can require a bit more planning. Does my IUD count? It has hormones in it...something else to talk to the doctor about.
15. Stock up on sleep.
Most people expect to lose sleep after the baby gets here, but most don’t count on the loss of sleep during pregnancy. When things like heartburn and getting up to pee reek havoc on your sleep schedule, it’s hard to stock up on sleep before the baby. Start stocking up now.
And, did you know, naps may even help you get pregnant faster? Women who get too little sleep tend to have more problems ovulating regularly than those who don’t.
16. Start Journaling again.
And not for the reason that you think . . .
Some research shows that having high stress levels can delay your ability to get pregnant (by making ovulation wacky, or by interfering with an embryo's ability to implant in the uterus). If you're an Type A personality to begin with, like me, your stress may ramp up once you're pregnant and dealing with getting your home and life ready for a baby. Studies show that writing in a journal regularly can help you feel more optimistic and less worried.
17. Deal with where you want to live.
We need to more space. This is something to definitely talk to the hubby about. Don’t need to move yet, but we definitely need to have a plan in place . . .
After another kid, I am not going to want to travel for a while, I am sure. I have been talking for years of a trip back to Colorado. I want to go back and do all the touristy stuff that I never did as a kid.
19. Discontinue the hair coloring.
I am a blond, but my hair has gotten darker through the years, so I tone it down a shade or two with either color or highlights (depending on how much money I have).
Though there's no conclusive research that proves hair coloring is unsafe during pregnancy, most experts recommend trying to minimize your exposure to the chemicals, especially in the first trimester when your baby's major organ growth takes place.
20. Stop buying clothes.
This totally sucks because I have reached a point in my life where I just want a whole makeover. I want new clothes, jewelry, and accessories. But if I am TTC, then what’s the point in the new clothes. I could be out of them in just a few months. And...I am going to have to start thinking about maternity clothes anyway. Instead, I should plan on a new mommy makeover (maybe).
Most of the experts and real moms agree that it's important to chat with your partner about some of the biggie parenting issues like how you'll share childcare, working vs. staying home, religious traditions before you start trying. Yes, my hubby and I already have children, but we haven’t had any together. I would probably be much better to talk about circumcision and different religious traditions before I am whacked out on hormones.
Wow! That’s quite a list. But, if all goes right, I can get some of it knocked out pretty easily. What sorts of things do you need to prepare for pregnancy? And I promise, I’ll update you on the list as time goes by.