Three pieces of advice from an OB/GYN.
Just deciding that it’s time to start your family is cause for celebration! Because there’s just so much to do during this exciting time, here’s a checklist to help you focus on some of the tasks at hand now and during the subsequent nine months:
Understand your cycle. Timing is everything – especially when most women have just a three to five-day window every month to get pregnant. Today there are tons of apps that can help you chart changes in your menstrual cycle and identify the ideal time to try for baby. If you have been attempting to get pregnant for over a year, your doctor can test you and your partner for infertility issues. Certain medical conditions can also affect your ability to get pregnant, so it’s always good consult with an expert.
Make your health a priority. Your body is going to go through a lot over the next nine months – you want it in top shape, which means paying more attention to diet and exercise. Women who have underlying medical issues like diabetes and hypertension should be even more diligent about their overall health.
Stop smoking and cut down on caffeine as much as possible. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid soft cheeses (which may contain listeria – a bacteria common that leads to food poisoning that is not healthy for babies) but go ahead and enjoy that sushi! Research shows certain types are safe for pregnant women to eat.
Exercise and activity is important before, during and after pregnancy -- after all, you’ll be creating, carrying and delivering another human being! A lot of women swear by prenatal yoga, which includes a variety of stretches (particularly targeting the hips and pelvis) and breathing exercises, to help ease discomfort both during pregnancy and during delivery.
Find a good OBGYN. A good doctor is a must from the start. They will be your most valuable resource during your pregnancy. The birth process is extremely personal, so you will want to find an OBGYN who will be your partner and respect your personal preferences in the delivery room.
“The single most important way to find an OBGYN is word of mouth, through people who have had that full experience,” says Dr. Nabil Khoury, an OBGYN at White Plains Hospital. “Also, speaking with other health care providers in the community that you trust is a good source of information, especially if you know any labor and delivery nurses.”
During the first visit, your doctor will take your medical history so they can be aware of any conditions or prior issues that would make conceiving difficult. They will discuss lifestyle issues and identify any bad habits that you may want to address before trying to conceive.
If you aren’t up to date on your exams, your OBGYN will do a Pap smear, take a urine sample and draw blood to make sure you are current on important vaccinations, including chicken pox and rubella. They’ll do a blood typing and Rh factor (indicating whether your blood type is positive or negative) to keep handy in case complications arise during delivery.
Planning and surrounding yourself with a caring healthcare team will go a long way in helping to make this next phase of life a joyful and healthy one.