Your Preconception Checklist:
Preparing for a baby is a huge deal, it’s a massive life change and there’s so many things to consider. Your health should be the number one priority as you need to prepare yourself both physically and mentally to carry and birth a baby.
I usually like to advise women to take one year to prepare themselves for conception for a baby. There’s a lot of things that need to happen in that time like addressing hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, allowing for a natural regular period to occur and the wait period of your health fund to update, just to name a few.
Check out my checklist below on things you can do to prepare yourself for a baby.
Stop all forms of contraception.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The chances of you conceiving a baby whilst on contraception is near impossible. I personally suggest stopping contraception 12 months out of planning to conceive, as not all women’s hormones bounce back straight away. You need to give your body time to regulate your hormones, allow your body to ovulate, have a normal and regular period and function naturally without any synthetic hormones. Now, this isn’t to say that all women’s bodies take time to regulate, some women are able to come of the pill, for example, and conceive the following week. However, you really wont know how your body will respond until you have come off contraception. Some women don’t see a period for months on end after stopping contraception.
Address any nutritional deficiencies.
After stopping contraception or when deciding you want to become a mum, I always advise to get a blood test done to check nutritional status and hormonal function in the body. Have a nutritionist go through these results with you thoroughly so you can address any deficiencies and/ or imbalances efficiently. This may see you making dietary changes, using a supplement and improving lifestyle habits. Different forms of contraception can inhibit nutrient absorption and certain nutrient deficiencies and hormonal imbalances can limit your chances of conception. Therefore, this step is highly important and shouldn’t be overlooked. The maternal body supplies the foetus with all of its nutritional intake. The foetus cannot receive any nutrients that the mother’s body does not have. This is another important reason as to why nutrient deficiencies need to be addressed prior to conception.
Improve diet and lifestyle habits.
Improving your diet and consuming a wide variety of whole foods, reducing alcohol, caffeine and stress levels are some ways a mother can improve her health prior to conception. As mentioned above, nutrient deficiencies can have a negative impact on fertility and the health of both a mother and her foetus. To improve your chances of conceiving, carrying and delivering a healthy child, as well as improving your recovery speed post birth, it’s important to make diet and lifestyle changes prior to conception. Finding ways to reduce stress and improve sleep quality will also improve a mother’s overall health status.
Sort out your private health fund.
Most private health funds take 12 months for their benefits to come into effect. This is another reason as to why preconception care needs to be put into action 12 months before conceiving (ideally). When making the appropriate changes to your health fund (if you choose to go privately), it’s also a good idea to start considering what health care professionals you want on your team. This includes but isn’t limited to finding a good doctor that you like and trust, considering what hospital you want to give birth in, working with a nutritionist to improve your overall health prior, during and after pregnancy and any other health practitioner you feel is needed to assist you on your journey to motherhood.
Find out if any of your current medications are harmful during pregnancy.
If you take any medications, book in to see your doctor and have a chat about what your plans are in regards to having a baby. Have the doctor review your medications and find out if any of these medications have an impact on your fertility or can harm the baby during pregnancy. The doctor will be able to advise if you need to come off these medications and perhaps swap to a less invasive medication.
It’s important to work with a team of health care professionals from preconception right through to postpartum and beyond to ensure both you and your baby have the best start in life. If you need assistance with your preconception care, please reach out as I’d love to help.