Are you ready to get pregnant?

While pregnancy has been said to be something of a romantic time in a woman's life, it is definitely a time that is best experienced with proper preparation. Although surprises do happen, and they usually work out just fine, being properly prepared for your pregnancy will not only ensure your baby's health and safe delivery - it will take a lot of stress off you as well.

Preconception Care

Preconception care is an important aspect of helping to create a healthy pregnancy. Schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN to get a check up and to ask any questions you may have about pregnancy and childbirth. Your practitioner will review your personal and family medical history, your present health, and any medications you're taking. Certain medications are dangerous during pregnancy, and some have to be switched before you even try to conceive because they're stored in your body's fat and can linger there, possibly causing harm to your unborn baby.

Preparing Your Body

Even before conception, it is recommended that women of child bearing age take folic acid supplements, preferably from a prenatal vitamin.Folic acid is important to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida. If you have not been eating well, change your diet to a more healthful one. Make sure you are not overweight or underweight, as these can both impede a pregnancy. Cut out alcohol and smoking as these habits are not only bad for your health but dangerous for a pregnancy and fetus. If you haven't done so already, you and your partner should discuss the possibility of going for genetic screening testing to rule out the possibility of inherited genetic diseases that could be passed on to your baby. And, make sure your own immunizations are up to date. If you haven't had a physical in more than a year, expect to have a pelvic exam and a pap smear as well as testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

Getting Ready for a Baby

Make sure that you are ready to have a baby. While a baby brings joy and love into this world, remember that having a baby comes along with a lot of responsibility. Important factors to consider before having a baby are:

Financial stability: Babies are expensive! The crib, furniture, car seat, diapers, layette, bottles and all the paraphernalia that comes along with a new baby really add up. When figuring out the cost of these items, remember that cribs and car seats can be rented and clothes can be borrowed. According to a 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, families in the middle-income group will spend $286,050 to raise a child from birth through age 17.

Emotional stability: Are you ready to give of yourself to another person? Are you emotionally in a place where you can handle the responsibility that comes with having a baby? There is a lot of adjusting to do when a new baby arrives. A woman on her own will have particular challenges. In couples, it is important that both partners are ready for pregnancy and for a baby.

Lifestyle changes: Think about how comfortable you are with a lifestyle change. A baby adds a new person into your family, and the transition from a twosome to a threesome is a big one. Will your work allow for flexibility? Do you plan on continuing to work? Is a baby something both you and your partner want? If you are a single parent, will you be able to get support and help from family or friends?

You've decided to get pregnant?

Once you've decided that you're ready, enjoy this special time in your life. Read up on pregnancy and childbirth. The more prepared and educated you are the better!



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