Things You Should Do When You’re Pregnant And 7 You Shouldn’t
When you discovered you were pregnant after seeing the positive pregnancy test, you may have been thrilled, worried, or surprised. Regardless of how you felt at first, it probably didn’t take long for you to start asking questions. What should you do? What should you avoid? How can you have a healthy pregnancy and birth? We went to the experts to find out. Here are seven things you should do when you’re pregnant, and seven you should avoid.
Whats My Partners Role In Planning My Pregnancy
Your partner can play a big role, if you want them to. Encouragement and emotional support can be really helpful and important, especially if youre making changes to your lifestyle as you get ready for pregnancy.
Your partner or sperm donors health is also important when it comes to getting pregnant. Diet and lifestyle can lower sperm count and semen quality. This can make it harder to get pregnant.
Some things that can lower sperm count include:
smoking or using other kinds of tobacco
using certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines
recent and frequent time in very hot environments
having an unhealthy diet
Talk to your partner about making lifestyle choices that can help their health and your future pregnancy.
Don’t Skip Your Regular Checkups When You’re Pregnant
You may feel like all of the checkups you’re required to do when pregnant are overkill, but resist the urge to skip some of them.
“Life is hectic, and numerous doctors appointments added to your schedule won’t make it any less, but those appointments are incredibly important to the health of your baby,” ConsumerSafety.org health investigator Caitlin Hoff told The List. “Think of your antenatal check-ups with your doctor or midwife as road stops on your pregnancy journey for the safety of you and your child, take the time to check these off one by one and ensure that your child is healthy and the pregnancy is progressing smoothly.”
OB/GYN Dr. Jill Hechtman agreed, noting, “Choose a provider that you are comfortable with and make sure you go to all of your prenatal visits. I also recommend choosing which hospital you will deliver at and make sure your provider goes there.”
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What Is Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking it before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine . Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, in how the body develops or in how the body works.
To help prevent NTDs in your baby, start taking a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid every day before you get pregnant. A supplement is a product you take to make up for certain nutrients that you dont get enough of in the foods you eat. Start taking 400 mcg of folic acid each day at least 1 month before pregnancy and through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Your folic acid supplement can be:
- A multivitamin. This is a pill that contains many vitamins and other nutrients that help your body stay healthy.
- A prenatal vitamin. This is a multivitamin that has nutrients you need during pregnancy. Your health care provider may give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins, or you can get them over the counter without a prescription.
- A supplement that contains just folic acid.
Because nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, you should take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid each day even if youre not trying to get pregnant.
Make Sure Your Vaccination Record Is Up To Date
Even before becoming pregnant, make sure you are up to date on all your vaccines. Being up to date will help protect you and your child from serious, preventable diseases. For example, rubella is a contagious disease that can be dangerous if you get it while you are pregnant. It can cause a miscarriage or serious birth defects.
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Day : Start A Multivitamin
Pregnancy is taxing on the bodys nutritional stores. Give yourself a boost by taking a multivitamin to bridge any gaps. Better yet, prenatal vitamins are specifically formulated to give your body what it needs during pregnancy.
Starting a prenatal now will help you avoid any nutritional deficiencies during early pregnancy. Youll also have time to try out a few brands to see what works for your body.
Know When To Seek Help
Both the woman and the man should consider having an infertility evaluation if the woman is 35 or older and has not become pregnant after six months of having sex regularly without using birth control, Pavone said.
Pavone also recommended that a woman who is under 35 and her partner should consult a fertility specialist if she hasn’t become pregnant after one year of having unprotected intercourse on a regular basis.
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Don’t Drink Alcohol Or Smoke While Pregnant
You’ve probably heard this one before, but you definitely don’t want to drink or smoke while you’re pregnant. ConsumerSafety.org health investigator Caitlyn Hoff told The List, “Rein in your addictions. Stay away from cigarettes and alcohol while pregnant.” She further explained, “We all know that cigarettes are bad for your health, but cigarette smoke can be even more dangerous to a developing fetus. Inhaling cigarette smoke while pregnant puts you and your child at a greater risk for premature birth, miscarriage, low birth weight, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome .”
Regarding drinking, she added, “Alcohol is a similar story, with linked birth defects known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders along with higher risks of miscarriage and stillbirths.”
So ladies, if you’re pregnant, you need to stop drinking alcohol and smoking in order to best protect your future child’s health.
How Should You Deal With Fertility Problems
After two or three months of trying, it’s easy to get frustrated. That doesn’t mean an immediate appointment with a fertility specialist is in order. “Even under ideal conditions, perfectly fertile couples can take several months to become pregnant,” Dr. Wood assures. If you’re under 35, with regular menstrual cycles and no underlying health issues that might affect fertility, Dr. Wood advises waiting it out for one year.
There are a few ways to boost your fertility without visiting a specialist. Things like focusing on a healthy diet, watching your weight, keeping stress levels down, and staying away from toxins like pesticides are smart places to start.
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When To Start Discussing Infertility
It can be frustrating and even devastating to try to conceive and continue seeing just one line on repeated pregnancy tests. If youve been trying for six months to a year with no success, it may be time to see a doctor.
Infertility is defined as one year of unprotected intercourse without achieving pregnancy. If youre age 35 or older, though, that timeframe is shortened to six months.
Start having the dialogue with your partner and your healthcare provider sooner rather than later, Dr. Mooney says, So you can feel prepared and assertive in starting to get the care you require.
Take A Prenatal Supplement
Make sure your body is in top shape before getting pregnant by eating a healthy diet and taking a prenatal supplement. These supplements contain folic acid and other vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy conception, fetal development, and pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider about any supplements that you currently take some of them may not be suitable for pregnancy, and you may need to switch them out before getting pregnant.
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Do Be Careful About What You Eat When You’re Pregnant
Pay attention to what you eat when pregnant. Dr. Sherry Ross, OB/GYN, told The List that it’s especially important to avoid raw or undercooked foods. “Food poisoning can occur when eating raw vegetables, unpasteurized juices, and undercooked meat, poultry, or eggs that can be linked with salmonella and Escherichia coli bacteria,” she said. “Cooking properly and thoroughly kills bacteria in the majority of foods.”
Also be careful about eating fish, whether raw or cooked. Dr. Ross shared, “Eating raw fish, such as sushi, has not been recommended in pregnancy since it can carry certain bacteria and parasites. Mercury is very toxic and can cause problems to the fetus and to the newborn nursing infant.” She noted that fish like halibut and tuna “have increased mercury levels and cause the most concern for consumption by pregnant women.”
But you don’t have to stop eating fish. Dr. Ross noted, “A pregnant woman can safely eat 12 ounces per week of varieties of fish thought to be low in mercury. The safest fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, scallops, oysters, squid, and salmon.”
What Else To Consider
Genetic carrier tests can give people important information, but they’re not right for everyone. Think things through before you make your decision:
How might the results affect me? Will knowing your chances of passing down a genetic disorder make you more or less worried during pregnancy?
How might the results affect my family? Sharing your results with family members who may also be affected by the information could cause tension.
What will my next steps be? Think ahead about how you might handle news of your results. It may help to talk with a genetics counselor, who can help you think about the possibilities and your options. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.
University of California at San Francisco Medical Center: “Preconception Carrier Screening and Testing for Genetic Disorders.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Preconception Carrier Screening,” “Expanded Carrier Screening in Reproductive Medicine — Points to Consider.”
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: “Introduction to Cystic Fibrosis.”
Edwards, J.Ã Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2015.
Shapira, S.Ã Maternal and Child Health Journal, 2006.
Genetics Home Reference: “Genetic Testing.”
Penn Medicine: “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis .”
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Have A Cervical Screening Test
If you are aged between 25 and 49 you should have a cervical screening test every three years. Its best to get tested before you get pregnant because pregnancy can make the results of your test harder to interpret.
If youre planning a pregnancy contact your GP surgery to find out if your screening is due now or within the next year.
How Long Does It Take To Get Pregnant After Sex
Conception results from sperm fertilizing the egg in the reproductive tract, which could happen up to six days after having sex depending on where in your cycle you were at the time. From there, the fertilized egg will travel to the uterus and implant in the uterine lining to begin the pregnancy. So how long after sex does implantation occur? Usually around six to 12 days. Some people notice implantation symptoms like light spotting or cramping, while others don’t .
But how long do you have to have TTC sex before you finally get pregnant? That answer depends on a variety of fertility factors, but up to 90% of people trying to conceive will get pregnant within a year.
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Ask Your Partner To Schedule His Own Preconception Exam Too
Your partners health is just as important as yours when youre trying to have a baby. Health issues like obesity, depression or stress, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol are just a sampling of the factors that can impact male fertility. So, get your own appointment on the books and ask him to do the same.
How To Prepare For Pregnancy
Planning a pregnancy is an exciting time in your life, but it can also be overwhelming. Your doctor can guide you on what to do before getting pregnant to help you feel prepared and confident as you embark on your journey. From preconception counseling to lifestyle modifications, there is a variety of ways you can reduce risks for you and your baby.
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Other Questions About Getting Pregnant
Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?
Yes, a woman can get pregnant while breastfeeding. It is possible to become pregnant as soon as three weeks after giving birth, even if the person is exclusively breastfeeding and has yet to begin menstruating again according to the U.K.’s National Health Service .
Can you get pregnant on your period?
Yes, it is possible to get pregnant if a woman has sex during their period, according to theCleveland Clinic . A woman is less likely to get pregnant during menstruation, but it is still possible. Women are most fertile around the time they ovulate, but predicting this window is not an exact science and this is particularly true for women who have irregular periods.
How to get pregnant fast
Many people want to know how to get pregnant as quickly as possible. There is no sure-fire way of ensuring a speedy conception, however by following the science and evidence the above tips can help you find the most optimal times to have sex and get pregnant.
Are pregnancy tests accurate?
When used properly, pregnancy tests are claimed to be up to 99% effective, according to the Mayo Clinic . If your test reads positive, this is rarely an error, however false negatives are more common, according to the NHS.
A pregnancy test works by detecting the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone . Around six days after successful fertilisation, the body produces this hormone.
A Thyroid Function Test
If you suffer from hypothyroidism and your body doesnt have enough of the thyroid hormone it needs for normal fetus development, the fetus can suffer from growth restriction, notes Lawson.
Biopsies during pregnancy can cause people to cramp and bleed more than when theyre not pregnant.
On the flip side, if you have antibodies over-stimulating your thyroid gland, those can cross the placenta, leading the fetus to develop a large thyroid, she notes.
Thyroid issues can be ID’d through a simple blood test.
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Schedule A Preconception Checkup
A preconception checkup is similar to an annual physical but includes additional care geared toward family planning and pregnancy. It may take a couple of weeks for you to get in for an appointment. Thats why we recommend that you make a preconception appointment early on.
Here are some of the things you can expect during your visit:
- A review of your medical and reproductive history, including:
- Whether youre up to date on recommended immunizations like tetanus, hepatitis and whooping cough
- Current medications youre taking
- Health conditions youre managing, like diabetes, anxiety, high blood pressure or other medical concerns
- Past pregnancies
Whats the difference between a midwife and OB-GYN? Or how about a family doctor for pregnancy? All can provide you with incredible care now and if you get pregnant. Choosing the right person for you comes down to your health, pregnancy goals and preferences.
What Is Your Family Health History And Why Is It Important Before You Get Pregnant
Your family health history is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in your families have had. Its a good idea to start putting your family history together before you get pregnant so you can share it with your provider at your checkup. Use the March of Dimes Family Health History Form to gather information.
Your family health history can help your provider:
- Identify health conditions that run in your or your partners family or ethnic group. An ethnic group is a group of people, often from the same country, who share language or culture. Certain genetic conditions, such as sickle cell disease and Tay-Sachs disease, are more common in people from certain ethnic groups. For example, people who are Ashkenazi Jews are more likely than others to have Tay-Sachs and other genetic conditions.
- Find the cause of a condition you had in a past pregnancy. Your provider may use tests like blood tests or ultrasound to help find the cause of the condition. Getting treatment can lower the chances of you having the same complication in your next pregnancy.
- Treat health conditions before pregnancy. Some chronic health conditions can lead to pregnancy problems and, sometimes, birth defects. Getting treatment before pregnancy for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus and PKU can improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.