Planning a Pregnancy? Do These 3 Things First

Posted on: 12 July 2016

Having a baby with your partner can be such a joyful experience that many couples want to conceive as quickly as possible after making the decision to have kids. However, there are a few things you should do before you start trying to conceive to ensure that you and your unborn child remain healthy throughout the pregnancy. Work your way through this checklist before you start working on making a baby.

1. Stop Smoking (Both of You!)

Smoking during pregnancy is incredibly harmful for the baby. It increases the risk of your baby being born with an unhealthily low weight, arriving early or even dying during delivery. Passive smoking is also dangerous, so you and your partner both need to commit to maintaining a smoke-free home throughout the pregnancy.

Nicotine cravings can be incredibly strong during the first three months after quitting smoking, leading many people to reach for a cigarette in a moment of weakness. To avoid exposing your baby to harmful smoke, it's a good idea to wait to start trying to conceive until you're sure you have passed the worst of the cravings and become used to a lifestyle that doesn't involve cigarettes. When trying to quit, consider joining a smoking cessation support group to keep you on track.

2. Take Folic Acid Supplements

Right from the moment of conception, folic acid protects your baby from developing serious birth defects, such as spina bifida. Experts recommend taking daily supplements containing 400 micrograms of folic acid for at least one month before you become pregnant. Keep taking these supplements throughout the pregnancy, increasing the dose to 600 micrograms daily when you reach four months and continuing with this dose until birth.

3. See a Dentist

The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can increase your risk of developing gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss or even harm your baby if it goes untreated. Before you conceive, see a dentist so you can find out if you have signs of gum disease and have treatments bring it under control if necessary. Let the dentist know you are pregnant and list any medications or prenatal vitamins you are taking, so this information can be taken into account when planning your treatment. As well as inspecting your teeth, the dentist will professionally clean your teeth so they are as clean as possible, which could help to reduce your risk of developing oral health problems during pregnancy.