This it it! You’ve decided: you will have a child as soon as you can. You and your spouse are ready, but your body may take some time before letting you know that the process is underway and you are pregnant. You should also be aware from the outset that some couples wait months, even years, before learning the good news.
One thing you can be sure of, though, is that you can give nature a helping hand, and your child every possible chance of a healthy development. From now on, you are your child’s present, and future.
Planning a pregnancy also involves some restrictions. If you smoke or regularly consume drugs or alcohol, you will have to make some lifestyle changes. Becoming a parent – or even planning to – means putting your child’s needs before your own.
Smoking can cause miscarriage, premature delivery or a detached placenta (the envelope that holds the baby in the womb). Tobacco consumption can also slow physiological growth. As for drugs, be aware that they are transmitted directly to your baby while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is best to avoid alcohol because it can reduce fertility. Furthermore, scientists cannot say for sure that the occasional glass of wine, for instance, has no effect on the fetus: when in doubt, it is better to abstain.
In fact, for an overview of what you should ingest in the coming months, make the Canada Food Guide your bedtime reading! It shows exactly what foods and portions you should eat for baby’s well-being. Above all, do not follow a weight-loss program unless your doctor puts you on a diet because you are overweight.
Nutritionists recommend that women who are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant eat foods high in folic acid, vitamin B6 and iron.
Examples of foods that contain folic acid, vitamin B6 and iron:
|Whole-grain productsor products enriched with folic acid (cereals, breads, pasta, pizzadough, cooked bulgur and millet)||Bran flakes, brown rice, wheat germ||Enriched breakfast cereals, enriched cream of wheat and iron-enriched pasta|
|Green vegetables (raw or cookedspinach, green peas, asparagus, romaine and Boston lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy)||Brussels sprouts, baked potatoes with the skin||Spinach, Swiss chard, baked potatoes with the skin, green peas|
|Legumes (lentils, chick peas, beans)||Legumes (lentils, chick peas, beans)||Legumes (lentils, chick peas, beans)|
|Orange juice and pineapple juice||Chicken||Meat|
|Salmon, mackerel, halibut, tuna, haddock||Cooked oysters, mussels, clams|
|Dried fruit (raisins, figs)|
Once you are pregnant, certain situations are to be avoided. Stay away from radiological examinations because X-rays can damage the embryo. Do not take any medication unless it has been approved by a doctor who knows your condition. Avoid people with contagious diseases, like rubella, so as not to transmit them to the baby. Do not handle chemical products such as solvents, stain removers, paint, dye, pesticides, etc. Similarly, do not change the cat litter, or if you do, wear gloves and remember to wash your hands afterward.
Finally, physical fitness is one of the keys to making the most of pregnancy, childbirth and the months that follow. Stretching, postures that are easy on your back, periods of relaxation and breathing exercises will prepare you properly, as well as increasing blood flow to the placenta. Consult literature on motherhood to learn more about these exercises.
Contact the child care services in your area. "Already?” you are thinking. “The baby hasn’t even been conceived yet!” The sooner the better, as waiting lists can be very long, and you might run into problems once you are ready to go back to work.