Tick, tick, tick, something new is happening inside you, something magical. From this moment onward you are in the company of an amazing miracle. A miracle that is gently growing inside you, gracefully touching and deepening your state of being every day. An extraordinary change will be taking place inside out for the next nine months. Are you ready for it?! Are you ready to conceive?!
It is not just an extra heartbeat, a tiny little head, hand or toe that will be growing inside you, it is the creation of a new life that you will be witnessing. An experience that is liberating as well as challenging, so get yourself prepared for it.
Getting pregnant could be an interesting ride, if you pick the right seat. Like a roller coaster, it is scary yet very exciting, so fasten your seat belt and make yourself familiar with the expectations. By knowing what will happen inside your body, how to get ready for it, and how to deal with the unexpected, you would be already half way. Yes, getting pregnant might happen in a fortnight, but the journey takes a little bit more than just a sperm fertilizing an egg. And it all starts with you. The decision to have a baby entails two major consideration: the emotional aspect and the physical aspect. Each is equally important.
“A baby fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty”. As early as conceiving, the emotional aspect of this experience is what makes it worthwhile. Taking this aspect into account, from the early beginning, it will ensure that you transition smoothly from one stage to the other. Allowing you the room to fully delve into the experience, instead of maintaining a firefight mood all the time.
Having a baby is not only about adding a new member to the family, it is putting yourself responsible for another life; one that is completely helpless, and fully dependant on you. You must be emotionally prepared to the sacrifices that would come along. Changing your focus completely from yourself to your baby, compromising your own needs and priorities for someone else’s, and keeping part of your heart with another human being forever.
The golden advice to get yourself emotionally prepared is; to keep yourself surrounded with a support group all the time. One, whose members have passed through similar experience, yet, are ahead of you. They will catch you when you are low, motivate you when you’re exhausted, and cheer for you along the way. However, if you are looking for the silver bullet, look towards your partner. Having his support and understanding from the early beginning, will keep him as engaged and excited as you are, as well as take a lot off your shoulder. It would also prepare him for parenthood.
Having that checked, you need to move on to the physical aspect. Getting pregnant is like planting a seed. First, you need to get the soil clean and ready for the seed, and then put the seed within. As you are getting ready to conceive, there are routines that you need to add, and others that you need to change or adjust.
1- Adding vitamins to your diet: Folic acid, Iron, and Calcium are very crucial for a pregnant woman. Folic acid is a type of vitamin B that helps your body produce healthy new cells. A deficiency in folic acid could lead to birth defects. Folic acid is present in whole wheat grains and green leaves. However, it is difficult to depend on your diet alone to get the needed intake, as this vitamin cannot be stored in your body. Folic acid supplement of 0.4 to one milligram maximum daily is recommended for women trying to conceive.
A lot of women suffer from iron deficiency, many times, without even realizing. As per the World Health Organization; over than 30% of the world’s population are anaemic, mostly due to iron deficiency. For pregnant women, iron is specifically important for the growth of both the baby and the placenta, especially in the second and third trimesters. It is also of special importance because the blood amount of a pregnant woman increases almost to half, so extra iron is needed to make more haemoglobin. Iron is found in dark green leaves, like spinach, as well as in beef, apples, bananas, pears, and dates. A recommended intake is 27 mg a day.
If you don’t get enough calcium while you’re pregnant, your baby will draw it from your bones. A problem that you might not suffer its impact straight away. A recommended intake is 1,000 – 1,300 mg daily. Of course, calcium is present in: eggs, yogurt, milk, and cheese.
An important watch out is not to take calcium simultaneously with iron, as calcium prevents the absorption of iron.
These three vitamins as well as other important vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy growth of your baby are found in prenatal vitamins.
2- Adding exercise to your routine: If you haven’t started yet, now is a good time to start. Contrary to the popular myth that exercising could be harmful to pregnancy, a non-exhausting exercise routine is encouraged. Swimming, walking and some moderate exercises are good for you, and will help you through delivery as well.
3- Embracing a healthy lifestyle and stocking your fridge with healthy options: A healthy body is always a good return on investment. Keep your diet rich in nutrients. Eat at least two cups of fruits and two and half cups of vegetables daily. Eat a lot of whole grains, and food that is rich in calcium. Drink at least two litres of water daily.
As For the Routines That Need Change or Adjustment:
1– Decrease your caffeine intake: While you don’t have to completely quit on your mood boaster, you need to decrease it. An intake of 200 to 300 milligrams a day is acceptable, which is equivalent to one or two mugs of coffee. Take into consideration that caffeine is not only found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate are all sources of caffeine. Caffeine makes it harder for your body to absorb iron, so avoid drinking it right after eating. An increase of caffeine intake may jeopardize your pregnancy, and puts you at risk of miscarriage. Caffeine reaches your baby’s bloodstream, and while it is easier for your body to metabolize caffeine, your baby’s body is still developing and takes longer time to process it. As your pregnancy progresses your ability to process caffeine decreases too, so watch out.
2- Too much fish could be dangerous: While fish is a rich source of omega 3 and vitamin D, it also contains mercury which could be harmful. It is best to avoid fish high in mercury like: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish, and take as little as one serving of canned tuna per week. However, fresh tuna is always better than canned one. You can have up to two fresh stakes weighing around 170g per week. The FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that pregnant women eat up to 12 ounces (two servings) a week of fish that are not high in mercury. Good choices include herring, farm-raised rainbow trout, salmon, and sardines.
3- Look out for your Body Mass Index (BMI): When it comes to pregnancy, body mass index (BMI) matters. As per the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 12 percent of all infertility cases are the result of “deviations in body weight from the established norm”. An optimal BMI ranges between 19 to 25. Anything above or below that needs work. You don’t have to reach this optimal BMI at once, but losing some weight is a good start.
4- Delegating the heavy duty: Stay away from heavy lifting, irritating smells and house chores that wears you out. It is a good idea to delegate such stuff to someone else.
5- Checking your medications:
Contrary to the common belief that medication is not allowed during pregnancy, some medications are. You need to check with your doctor which medications should be avoided and which shouldn’t. Check that your vaccines are also up to date, as some infections could cause miscarriage or birth defects. It is advisable to get the flu shot when you are planning to get pregnant.
Eventually, having a baby is a mutual effort from you and your partner, so it is a good idea to have yourselves both checked up as you are trying to conceive. Get checked for both families’ medical histories just to make sure that everything is going on as planned.
Like every project in life, your job is to plan it well, then be flexible with the unexpected. Have the wisdom to reach out for help whenever needed. Approach the experience with an adventurous heart. And remember that good days as well as bad days are all part of any experience. A bad day is only a “day”, and it too shall pass. Fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride. “Life is tough without having someone kick you from the inside” -Rita Rudner