Whether it’s a move, a job interview or running a race, most people prepare for major life events. Even the simple act of dating helps prepare you for a lifetime of marriage. But parenthood is something people rarely prepare for.
If you’re trying to conceive, here are eight things to think about in order to prepare you for the journey ahead.
Have the hard conversations with your partner now.
What genetic disease risks do we carry? What happens if we find out one or both of you carry a hereditary disease that might be pass on to our offspring? What will you do if your baby has birth defects? What happens if either or both of you are diagnosed with infertility? Adoption? IVF? How do we want to parent our child?
Some of these questions might seem obvious and you might think you know your partner’s answers without asking him or her. But people can, and will, surprise you.
Lessa and her fiancé had been trying to get pregnant for over two years and were about to embark on their first round of IVF. Her fiancé had been very vocal about wanting to have a child but she’d felt like he’d been more of an observer than a participant in their fertility struggle up until that point. So, she asked him, “What if the IVF doesn’t work? Are you going to stick around?” His response was, “No.” Having a child was more important to him than their relationship.
While it was painful to hear at the time, Lessa feels fortunate she got that information before paying thousands of dollars for IVF. “If the IVF had worked, I might be still be stuck in a terrible relationship just because we had kids.”
Go off birth control before you want to start trying for kids.
If you and your partner have just started thinking about having kids but aren’t ready to actively try, Dr. Angela Le of Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness recommends going off your birth control now. “You want to get to know your body’s natural rhythm before you try to have kids. Especially if you originally started taking birth control because of menstrual issues.”
Going off birth control before you’re actively trying to get pregnant can help you solve any menstrual issues before they cause delays in starting a family.
Not only is smoking bad for the fetus, causing low birth weight and problems with the placenta, it can also make it harder for you to get pregnant. If you are able to get pregnant while you’re still smoking, you’ll have to quit and going through withdrawal during your first trimester will likely make any pregnancy side effects much harder.
Cut out (or down) the caffeine.
Studies have reached conflicting conclusions about the effect of caffeine on a woman’s ability to get pregnant, but IVF doctors report a lower success rate with women who drink more than a cup or two of coffee a day.
One of the problems with caffeine might not be the caffeine itself, but what it hides. “Caffeine can mask imbalances in other areas of your life,” said Dr. Le. “I encourage my patients to cut it out so that we can more easily see the areas of their lives that aren’t working.”
Bring mindfulness to your life.
If you’re feeling stressed out, try meditation or simple breathing exercises. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try turning off your electronics an hour or two before bed. If you dread Mondays, then maybe it’s time to look for a new job or career. Getting yourself in the best emotional and psychological space before you have a child will improve your experience both while you’re pregnant and as a parent.
Mothering yourself is often referred to as self-care and is the result of turning the desire to nurture inward. Take time to think about what you need and whether that’s better nutrition, rest, or exercise, then give it to yourself.
Get in shape now and get your partner involved.
A Danish study found that if both parents were overweight, they’d likely have to wait a year or longer to conceive than a couple with healthy BMIs. Starting an exercise routine now will also make it easier to be active during pregnancy and could help you shed the baby weight faster post pregnancy.
Improve your nutrition.
Prenatal vitamins aren’t just for pregnancy. Your body needs an adequate amount of folate and b-vitamins to even get pregnant in the first place, so up your intake of greens, eat whole grains and organic meats, and start taking a prenatal vitamin every day.
The journey of starting and growing a family is one we rarely feel ready for. But if you have open communication with your partner and take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, you’ll be as prepared as you can be.
The contents of this blog were independently prepared, and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the views of any other party. Individual results may vary.