Things to Consider While Planning Your Pregnancy
Planning for a pregnancy is exciting, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. You have physical and financial considerations to make, as well as questions of lifestyle and how you’ll manage the inevitable changes that come with having a family. The following are some of the things you’ll want to consider while planning your pregnancy.
If you and your partner – or you alone, if you have no partner – have decided that the time is right for a baby and you have considered the lifestyle changes this will entail, then it’s time to start considering the physical and financial considerations.
There is a saying that if you wait until you think you can afford to have a baby, you'll never have one. While that is a bit of an exaggeration, it’s a good idea to have some idea of how you’ll handle the expenses of having a baby. If you have health insurance, you should find out what expenses will be covered and how much it will cost to add the baby to your coverage when he or she is born. If you don’t have health insurance, how will you pay for the doctor’s visits and hospital delivery you’ll need?
And while you’ll probably receive some gifts from friends and family members, think about the expenses you’ll have in caring for a baby, including child care, diapers, clothing and food. You should also find out what kind of maternity leave your employer offers. How will you get the time you need for doctor's appointments during your pregnancy? Can you make up the time you miss from work or will you need to use sick leave or vacation time? If you’re put on bed rest for part of your pregnancy, do you have disability income that will take care of you during that time? Will you return to work after the baby is born and, if so, who will provide child care? These are all things to think about when planning a pregnancy.
In terms of physical considerations, you should see your health care provider for a preconception physical. Your health care provider can help you determine if you’re healthy enough for a pregnancy. You can also discuss any potential fertility concerns you have at this time. In general, the best time to discuss any genetic considerations is also before conception.
If you have any chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, asthma, epilepsy or diabetes, they should be well under control before you conceive. Talk with your health care provider about all of the medications you’re taking – both prescription and over the counter – as well as any herbal supplements you’re taking. If you’re on regular medications, your health care provider can tell you if they’re safe to continue during pregnancy or whether you’ll need to make changes. If you have any sexually transmitted diseases, you should also receive care for those before you conceive.
Your health care provider can also help you determine if your immunizations are up to date. If you haven’t ever had the chickenpox virus, be sure to get the varicella vaccine. Hepatitis B and rubella – also known as German measles – can also be dangerous during pregnancy, so make sure you’ve had those vaccines as well.
Finally, when you’re planning a pregnancy, begin to take prenatal vitamins at least one month before you discontinue birth control. Adequate amounts of folic acid are important at the time of conception to prevent a specific type of spinal birth defect.