Once you and your partner have decided to have a child, you can ensure an optimum physical and psychological preparation for the pregnancy by familiarizing yourselves with several rules and recommendations.
Begin to take care of your health before falling pregnant – your body will be your new child’s home for at least nine months! A balanced and nutritious diet provides the body with many essential vitamins and minerals. It is particularly important to ensure that your diet contains sufficient quantities of folic acid, which substantially reduces the risk of innate malformations in the spine and spinal marrow (neural tract malformations).
The principle sources of folic acid include leafy vegetables, potatoes, grains and liver. In addition, a special vitamin compound is generally recommended for pregnant women containing folic acid and all of the other micronutrients that are vital for the development of your child.
You are highly recommended to give up smoking before falling pregnant. Smoking has a harmful effect on both your own health and that of your (unborn) child. Moreover, smoking has a negative impact on the fertility of both men and women. The same is true of toxic substances used in the home or in the environment (solvents, pesticides, etc.).
A balanced fitness programme can also be part of your preparations for pregnancy. Keeping fit and maintaining good circulation will help you to support the additional weight you will gain and will aid in minimising the usual discomfort associated with pregnancy.
Make an appointment with your gynaecologist before the pregnancy. Medical risks that could appear during the pregnancy may be able to be recognised and reduced in advance. Among other issues, you should discuss the following with your doctor:
- Examination of the uterus: By means of a palpation examination or an ultrasound, the uterus can be examined for tumours (myomas), which could cause discomfort during pregnancy and lead to complications during the birth. In addition, the examination can also exclude infections of the uterine orifice and the vagina.
- Rubella infection: Rubella infection during pregnancy can have grave ramifications for your unborn child. Consequently, a blood test will be taken to determine whether you are immune to rubella. If you have never been afflicted with rubella and have also not been immunised against the infection, you will receive the corresponding vaccination. In this case, you should endeavour not to fall pregnant during the subsequent three months, as the vaccine may have a negative effect on the unborn child.
- Cancer prevention: If your annual Pap smear was positive, pregnancy should be postponed until such time as the results have normalised or have been remedied.
You should also discuss your general state of health with your gynaecologist. If you are receiving treatment for an acute or chronic illness, it may be necessary to change your medication or to postpone your pregnancy.
If you have not fallen pregnant after many years of trying, you can also discuss with your doctor the medical options available to improve your natural chances of conception.