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Pre-Pregnancy Planning – Get the Basics Right!

Planning for a pregnancy can be exciting – and overwhelming.  Adding a new member to your family is no small matter – that member will require your time, money and energy for at least 18 years after birth.  However, with all the considerations to be made, it’s easy to feel like you’re in over your head.  To keep things simple, focus on the basics.  If you take care of the basics, the other details will fall into place without much difficulty.

One of the first things you need to plan is how you’ll go into pregnancy as healthy as possible.  This means getting a complete check-up and addressing any problems that are revealed, such as missing immunizations.  If you have any chronic health conditions, they should be under control before you conceive.  Or, if you’re on any regular medications, your health care provider may make adjustments or changes to make sure you’re on medications that are safe for use during pregnancy.  It’s important to take care of this before you become pregnant so that your body has time to adjust.  You may also need to take booster shots for certain diseases, such as German measles, and this should be done at least one month before you begin trying to conceive.

Another important part of planning for pregnancy is beginning to take prenatal vitamins.  You should begin taking these at least one month before you begin trying to conceive.  However, be aware that some women have problems with certain formulations of prenatal vitamins.  It’s best to find a vitamin that works for you before you have morning sickness to contend with.  Prescription brands, for example, may cause constipation and abdominal discomfort in some women.  You also need to make sure that you have adequate amounts of folic acid in your system before you conceive, as this compound helps prevent a particular type of birth defect known as neural tube defects.

One medical consideration you should make before conception is whether or not any genetic counseling is required.  Talk with your health care provider about you and your partners risk factors for certain genetic conditions – they’ll help you determine if genetic counseling is appropriate given your situation.  These are decisions and considerations you should make before pregnancy.  This is also a good time for you and your partner to discuss matters such as abortion and selective termination in the event of a multiple gestation – an unpleasant thought for sure, but still one that needs to be considered.

Before you conceive is also the time to find out how much your health insurance will pay for pregnancy and how much you’ll be required to pay out of pocket.  Some providers – both obstetricians and hospitals – require pre-payment when insurance isn’t expected to cover the full bill.  If this is the case for you, you may need some time to save money to take care of those expenses.  At the same time, it’s a good idea to know how much maternity leave you can expect and how much of it will be paid maternity leave.

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