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So you

So you

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Published by Shail Prajapati

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Published by: Shail Prajapati on Sep 30, 2011
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01/20/2013

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So you’ve decided that now is the time to prepare for pregnancy – congratulations! You’ve probably been thinking about babies for some time and can’t wait to get started.It’s important to bear in mind that it’s completely normal for you to conceive anytime in the firsttwelve months of trying – 90% of couples will conceive in the first twelve months of trying.After this time, your fertility can be investigated should you be concerned that you haven’t yetconceived.So, what’s the next step? In no particular order, below are some things to think about now thatyou’re ready to prepare for pregnancy.
1. Visit your GP
Visit your GP for a full check-up, including a pap smear and breast check.Your doctor will likely ask if your vaccinations are up-to-date, particularly:
Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR)
Chicken Pox
Whooping Cough
Influenza
Pneumococcal DiseaseRemember its a personal choice to vaccinate or not, BellyBelly recommends you do your research to find out what’s best for you. Some vaccines have additives (some preservatives invaccines include mercury) and side effects which you may not be happy to have in your body.
2. Start taking Folic Acid (folate)
Because it can be difficult to get all the folate you need from your diet, it’s a good idea to takefolate supplements, which help prevent neural tube defects like Spina Bifda – one of the mostcommon of all birth defects.Ideally, start taking folate three months prior to conception, but if you hope to conceive earlier than this, the sooner you start taking it, the better. A dose of 400ug until the 12th week of  pregnancy is ideal – it’s most crucial in the first trimester as the brain and spinal cord aredeveloping.Most pregnancy / pre-natal multi-vitamins should contain folate so you can even start takingthose instead of folate on it’s own – just make sure you read the label so you know how muchfolate you’re actually getting (ideally not too small amount).You’ll also find folate in the following foods:
Spinach
Broccoli
 
Brussel Sprouts
Asparagus
Berries
Avocado
Beef / Yeast Extracts (e.g. Vegemite)
Eggs
Bran Flakes
Chick Peas
Soy Beans
Oranges
GrapefruitA vitamin to make mention of is Vitamin A, which can be harmful to the baby or may cause birth defects when taken in excess amounts. This is no reason to panic about the foods you eat ona daily basis. According to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration website, “therecommended adult daily allowance of vitamin A from all sources is 2500 IU per week”.You will find a Vitamin A in most multi-vitamins and this is okay as it’s an important vitamin – a deficiency can also cause health problems for your baby. Provided you don’t exceed the aboveintake per week, Vitamin A is safe to ingest. This is why it is important to make sure you have amulti-vitamin suitable for pregnancy as this should be factored in already.
3. Investigate / Check Your Private Health Cover
If you intend to:
Attend a Private Hospital,
See a Private Obstetrician or 
See a Private Midwife (some funds contribute towards Midwives, contact your fund tosee).. you’ll need to make sure your Private Health cover is up to date and that you have the level of cover you need.Most Private Health funds require you have appropriate cover for at least 12 months prior to your  baby being born. Most will also cover your baby if he / she is to be admitted for any reasonduring this time, however some funds have exceptions and limits so it’s important to check withthem first.
4. Smoking
There is no safe level of smoking no matter if you are trying to conceive or pregnant or neither.If you are a female smoker, you will likely have lowered fertility compared to that of a non-smoker. Smoking can also result in less success with fertility treatment and a higher miscarriageand stillbirth rate.
 
Men who smoke may have reduced semen volume and sperm count and more abnormal spermcompared to non or ex-smokers. Toxins found in tobacco smoke, such as cadmium, nicotine,lead and radioactive elements may be directly toxic as they circulate in the blood and reach thetestes. It is not yet known whether this affects the fertility or health of the children of men whosmoke.^1^Smoking during pregnancy and exposing the infant to tobacco smoke in the first year of life isone of the major risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS or cot death).^2^ Over one-quarter of the risk of death due to SIDS is attributable to maternal smoking.^3^So if you are a smoker, now is a great time to stop. You can discuss this with your GP, pharmacist or you can call support organisations like Quit on 137848. You can read more aboutsmoking in pregnancyHERE.
5. Stop alcohol consumption
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) recommends that men drink nomore than four standard drinks per day, with at least two alcohol-free days per week and for women, recommends no drinking at all during pregnancy. This is due to the difficulty inknowing what is a safe level for a pregnant woman to drink.Excessive drinking can result in miscarriage or stillbirth and puts baby at risk of disabilities, behavioural problems and slow growth.
6. Stop taking social drugs
It goes without saying that recreational drug use is harmful to your body, this may also includeyour fertility. Studies suggest that certain drugs may have effects including a reduction spermcount and quality, preventing ovulation, causing abnormalities and an increase in general fertility problems. Some drugs may cause bleeding, miscarriage and low-weight and underdeveloped babies.
7. Visit your pharmacist
If you are taking any medications, check with your pharmacist or GP to see if they are stillappropriate for conception and / or pregnancy. Many medications including over-the-counter  painkillers and other drugs are not recommended to take when pregnant or breastfeeding.
8. Healthy eating & exercise
You don’t need to follow a strict regime that’s impossible to keep up with, but aim to be in thehealthy weight range for your body – being underweight or overweight can effect fertility.Being underweight or overweight can result in problems with ovulation. You are also more prone to high blood pressure in pregnancy if you are overweight, which can be dangerous if leftuntreated.

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