Deciding to start trying for a baby isn’t usually something that happens overnight. It might also take some time to get pregnant. You might also dither for a while, unsure if the time is right. So why fill the gap with some activities to help you prepare for pregnancy and motherhood.
I suspect there is another post further down the line which is slightly more sarcastic. These are just some of the things that sprung to mind on the practical front.
Folic acid reduce the risk of central neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies. A lack of folic acid could lead to folate deficiency anaemia. You will be told to take it during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy but it’s actually important to start taking while you get pregnant so you have it from day one and there is sufficient in your system. You should take 400 micrograms so check the back of the label on multi vitamins in particular. You might need to take a separate supplement.
Cut out alcohol
There’s strong scientific evidence that alcohol can effect fertility, and Chief Medical Officers for the UK recommend that if you’re pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all.
Cut back on caffeine
Yep, from Coke to coffee, opt for caffeine free. There is some evidence to suggest it impacts fertility, while others say it doesn’t. Either way it’s good to cut down. Caffiene effects iron absorption and also bone density so cutting back while you’re trying to get pregnant probably isn’t a bad idea. There is some evidence that high levels of caffeine in pregnancy can result in babies having a low birthweight.
A well balanced and varied diet works wonders, particularly when it comes to fertility and general wellness. If you get into good practices now you are more likely to sustain them once you are pregnant and beyond. If you’re used to relying on naughty foods or breakfast cereal for lunch, you’ll be less motivated to start eating well once you’re frazzled with a little one.
Start good exercise habits
I know plenty of women who trained hard before getting pregnant, from running to Crossfit and continued through most of their pregnancies and beyond. If you aren’t particularly athletic though it might be worth taking up a sport or activity now which will help keep you fit but be sustainable when you’re pregnant and have a newborn. Walking is great activity as it’s free, doesn’t require any particular skill and the only equipment you need is a decent pair of shoes. I’ve always been keen on working as I grew up in a car-free family, and it stood me in good stead for long walks with a pushchair. I don’t have much time to go to a gymn, but even now I’ll use the opportunity to walk somewhere rather than drive. Every bit helps!
Know your finances
This is important as there is no doubt children come with a price tag. I don’t just mean IVF, although in our case it did. Children need things. You might also choose or need to work less to accommodate childcare. All these things will have an impact on your budget. Work out what your basic spend is a month, stripping back all the “nice to haves” and identifying the “must haves.” You will be surprised how little you can live off if pressed and that will stand you in good stead once you are on maternity leave.
Once you know what your actual budget is, you can start to save a little money. Start saving a little but often, and saving any Tesco Clubcard vouchers for items you’ll want to buy in the future. Once little people come along, money often just gets consumed by childcare, clothes or other necessities. Try to make the most of saving for a rainy day now.
If you are anything like us, you might be holding on to a lot of stuff which you just don’t need anymore. We have boxes of VHS videos without a video player, and aging books that were falling apart. Get rid of all the stuff you don’t really need now. You’ll find you have a lot more space and once you are pregnant you have somewhere to put all those essentials you will stockpile.
Write a pre-pregnancy bucket list
Even the most liberal and laid back parents will find their activities curtailed in some way once a baby is on the picture. Your social life may well die for a while and there will be plenty of sleepness nights. Make a list of all the things you’d love to do before a baby comes along – from eating out as a couple, to holidays. You won’t be able to do all of them but some should be achievable. Don’t worry if it doesn’t contain grand plans, think about the things you love doing and will miss, like impromptu nights out with your gal pals.
Have a back up vision
If you’re thinking about becoming a mum, you might be all laid back at first, but it’s easy to get swept up into a ball of nerves. It can take you over. I found it helpful to build in my mind a backup scenario. This was along the lines of other options of building a family, like adoption, but also a clear picture of what our life would be like without kids. Knowing that if it didn’t happen or took longer than we anticipated, it wasn’t the end of the world. We would still have an amazing life. I think remembering this is important.
Despite all of the above, I’d still say don’t worry too much and just get on with it. Not expecting that? Look, in the theory we can do all we can to prepare for parenting, but in practice it will hit you like a freight train however well you prepare.
If you wait until there is a right time, you’ll never do it. Try to take the best care of yourself and get your life in order as best you can, but don’t worry too much about what it will be like, or that you’re not getting pregnant as soon as you would like. All these things can take time, practice and will all work out in the end.
Additional reading and resources