Before You Get Pregnant : Your Pre-Pregnancy “To-Do” List
1. Visit Your Doctor or Midwife.
Don’t wait until the stick turns pink before visiting your OB-gyn or Midwife for the first time! Some of your baby’s most important development takes place in the first days of pregnancy and it’s crucial that you are taking the best possible care of yourself when you conceive.
During a preconception visit, your health care provider may prescribe vitamin supplements, advise you on prenatal testing, and answer questions you have about pregnancy. She will review your personal and family medical history and likely give you a short physical exam.
If you don’t already have a relationship with a trusted OB or Midwife, now is the time to establish one! Pregnancy can be fraught with emotion and you’ll want a trusted professional to turn to when you have questions and concerns. You may have to visit several providers before you find a doctor and office staff that will meet your needs, but it’s time well spent!
This is also the time to make a financial plan for your pregnancy.Â Call your health insurance provider and review your coverage. Be sure your preferred health care provider and birthing facility are covered on your plan. Start a savings account for costs not covered and deductibles.
2. Visit Your Dentist
Research suggests that some prenatal oral conditions may have adverse consequences for your baby.Â Periodontitis,Â inflammation around the gums, is associated with preterm birth and low birth weight.Â Although dental x-rays and other procedures can be safely performed during the second trimester, it’s best to cross these off your checklist beforehand for the most stress free pregnancy. Your dentist can also advise you about protecting your teeth from increased acid exposure resulting from vomiting and acid reflux common in pregnancy.
3. Realize that “Trying to Conceive” is Emotional
Trying to conceive is an emotional process! You may find yourself extra sensitive and hyper focused on pregnancy and your body’s signals. Read books, talk with friends and family who’ve made the journey before you, participate in “trying to conceive” internet forums, and keep a journal of your feelings.
Spend time with your partner and talk about your experiences. Many couples notice changes in their relationship when the focus of their sex life shifts from recreation to procreation. This is especially true if conception takes longer then you would like.Â Only about 40% of couples conceive in the first three months of trying and it takes 15% of couples more then a year to get pregnant. The stress of trying to conceive can take a toll on you, don’t go it alone!
4. Act Pregnant, Even if You’re Not (Yet)
Before you stop using birth control, you absolutely must quit smoking and abstain from alcohol and drugs. Discuss with your doctor prescription and over-the-counter medications you currently take and make plans to change those not safe during pregnancy.
Your doctor can help you build a complete personalized action plan for a healthy preconception lifestyle. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and get a good night’s sleep. Drink plenty of water. Unless you’ve had prior pregnancy complications, you can likely continue your regular exercise routine (unless you’re into Roller Derby).
5. Prepare Your Support Networks
Pregnancy can be full of surprises! Morning sickness can knock you out for weeks and early pregnancy fatigue is sometimes overwhelming, to say the least. Even if you make it out of the first trimester unphased, even very healthy women can be surprised to find themselves on bed-rest.
Make plans with your friends, family, and partner for both the mundane and more unexpected complications of pregnancy.
Believe it or not, this might be the hardest box to check off your pre-pregnancy “to do” list! Make rest and relaxation a priority when you are trying to conceive.Â It’s very easy to obsess, but obsessing never got anyone pregnant. Enjoy the journey as much as possible; it’s not one you’re likely to walk often!