Healthy pregnancy checklistWednesday, December 02, 2015
By KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
A healthy baby begins with you, and as such pre-pregnancy planning is essential to ensure that you get the best out of the experience.
Dr Daryl Daley, obstetrician-gynaecologist, says being healthy before pregnancy and identifying certain risk factors for a complicated pregnancy are crucial.
Below he lists things women should have on their pre-pregnancy checklists.
1. Getting in shape
Dr Daley said pregnancy affects every organ and system in the body and it is important to ensure that the body is in optimal physical shape to cope with the next nine months. "You should aim to have your BMI (body mass index) normal. Being too thin can result in difficulties getting pregnant, while being too heavy can result in the development of diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy and problems during and after labour," he said. He added that women should aim to have 30 minutes of exercise -- walking, jogging, aerobics or cycling at least three times a week to get the heart pumping.
2. Eating right
"Progesterone and oestrogen makes your craving for sweets and ice cream a reality," he said. "Ensure that you have a balanced diet at least three months before the pregnancy. This should consist of fruits, vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. Avoid junk food."
3. Prenatal vitamins
Dr Daley said during pregnancy, especially the first trimester, the blood count naturally falls and most women develop anaemia. "It is important to counteract this by taking iron supplements in advance of the pregnancy. Folic acid before the pregnancy is important as it aids in the development of the baby's spinal cord and brain tissue. A dose of 400 micrograms a day one month in advance is recommended for most pregnancies," he said.
4. Get a check-up
Dr Daley said it is important to ensure that any chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes are well controlled prior to pregnancy. "Sometimes medications will need to be changed so as not to affect the developing baby. Your ObGyn will do a full physical examination and interview to ensure you are in optimal form prior to pregnancy. Also, all your vaccinations should be up to date," he said.
5. Dental check
"Pregnancy increases your likelihood of gum disease. Make sure those teeth are pearly white, so as not to give you a fight!" Dr Daley said.
6. Cut back on caffeine
Dr Daley said too much caffeine can result in difficulties conceiving, so. So women should limit themselves to one 12-ounce cup of coffee per day, at most, or try decaf.
7. Stop drinking and smoking
The ObGyn said alcohol increases the likelihood of birth defects and miscarriages. On the other hand, he explained that smoking increases the chances of low birth weight, prematurity and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
8. Budget for baby
"Babies are bundles of joy but realistically, they can burn holes in your pocket! It is important to have a budgetary plan for the baby. Try to get gently used baby clothes from friends and family, for example," he said.
9. Maternity leave and benefits
Dr Daley said it is important to identify how much maternity leave you have before pregnancy. He said it is necessary to also identify if your company has any extra antenatal benefits and ensure your health insurance is up to date, as antenatal care can be quite costly.