Certain pre-pregnancy advice applies to everyone. No matter where you are in life, you should stop smoking and start taking a prenatal vitamin if you are considering becoming pregnant. However, for those coming to the parenting journey later in life, general pregnancy advice is not always helpful. Discussions on specific fertility supplements for women and strategies for improving egg health might be more beneficial. Whichever category you fall into, it’s never too early to start planning for pregnancy. If you and your partner are thinking about trying to conceive, there are plenty of things you can start doing now to prepare for the road ahead.
1. Talk About Parenting
You and your partner are a team when it comes to raising your future children. Before you get pregnant is a great time to start having conversations about big parenting issues. Discuss how you will handle religion, childcare and education. You do not need to have all the answers during these conversations. This time is to explore your thoughts and preferences. You will get some practice on how to compromise and resolve fights, which are critical skills to have once you welcome a child into your home. Do not forget to include some fun parenting topics in your conversations, such as family vacations and holiday traditions.
2. Make Healthy Changes
Pregnancy can be rough on the bodies of both partners. The health of both parents can have long-term effects on the health of your future children. Now is the time to start making healthy changes to improve your pregnancy and the overall health of your future children.
You and your partner should aim for a healthy weight. This is a BMI between 18 and 24. If you are significantly overweight, a decrease in your total body weight by 7.5% has been shown to offer significant health benefits. It reduces blood pressure, increases insulin sensitivity and can increase your overall energy, which are all great things when planning to get pregnant.
3. Change Your Diet
It’s an unfortunate reality that many of the foods and beverages we consume are not the best for us. When you are pregnant, what you eat does not only affect you; it affects your unborn baby. If you start to decrease your consumption of these forbidden items before pregnancy, it will not be such a hard transition to give them up when you are ready to get pregnant. Couples thinking about conceiving should reduce their alcohol and caffeine intake. They should also avoid foods that have trans fats, as these have been associated with infertility.
Both partners should reduce their consumption of high-mercury fish like tuna and swordfish. Mercury is a toxic metal that can accumulate in your blood and cause brain damage. Now is the perfect time to start taking a prenatal vitamin as well. You will establish a routine, so you are less likely to forget your daily dose once you become pregnant.
4. Go on Date Nights
Once you get pregnant, certain activities get harder or less enjoyable. Maximize your pre-pregnancy time by going on date nights as frequently as possible. Catch movies in the theater since, once you are pregnant, sitting still for two hours without a bathroom break becomes nearly impossible. Go for long hikes or on a camping trip — plan long-distance air travel and any other trips that will be more difficult once you get pregnant. Use your pre-pregnancy time to bond as a couple. It is the time to make memories. Once your child enters your life, things will be forever changed, in the best way possible.
5. Start Saving
Hopefully, you already understand that children are expensive. The average cost for an American family to raise one child to adulthood is now over $275,000. The earlier you start saving, the more you benefit from the power of compound interest. Before getting pregnant, start saving an emergency fund to ensure your family is secure should something arise. For most people, an emergency fund should be three times their monthly expenses. When you have a child to support, aiming for six months of your expected expenses is a good goal to have.
You may want to use your pre-pregnancy time to look into college savings accounts for your future offspring. Most states offer a tax-deferred savings account called a 529 that offers significant benefits.
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6. Practice Relaxation
Pregnancy and parenting can come with a lot of stress for couples. Use your time before having a baby to explore relaxation techniques and find which one works best for you. A side benefit of practicing relaxation is that it may help you get pregnant faster. Many different activities are effective stress relievers. Meditation and yoga often come to mind first. However, physical activity like running or swimming can be very relaxing for some people. Keeping a journal and writing out your thoughts for five to fifteen minutes before bed can also help you relax and fall asleep faster.
Connecting with friends and family members over tea or lunch creates valuable memories and reduces stress at the same time. Once you are pregnant, having a support system that you can rely on is incredibly helpful. You will be able to share some of your burdens and relax without fear of being judged. By establishing these close connections before you get pregnant, you will know you have the right people in place when you need them.
7. Visit Your Doctors
You and your partner should visit your doctors before getting pregnant. Your family physician can give you an exam to make sure everything is in good shape to handle the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth. They can also provide genetic testing services and counseling to help you and your partner discuss any challenges you may be facing.
Your physician is not the only doctor you should visit, though. Before getting pregnant, women should visit the dentist and the eye doctor. Any procedures or fillings that you need are much safer to do before you get pregnant. Additionally, improving your oral health can reduce your chances of suffering a miscarriage.
If you do not have a therapist, now might be the time to start seeing one. Your mental health is incredibly important in all aspects of your life. The many hormonal changes that a woman’s body undergoes during pregnancy can be taxing mentally and physically. By establishing a routine with a therapist before getting pregnant, you will have an important resource supporting you through any challenges you might face.
Enjoy Your Journey to Parenthood
This is an exciting time in your life. As a couple, you and your partner will experience many changes and challenges on your way to becoming parents. Even if you have had a child before, spending time together completing the activities on this list brings you closer as a couple and helps you prepare for this next step.