Are you thinking of having a baby? Here are some important considerations to answer the question: Am I ready for a baby?
Not only that, but it's a big (lifelong!) commitment. It's important to make sure that both you and your partner are ready to take this step together.In case you've forgotten what you learned in high school biology class, having a baby takes two people.
Have the conversation about when you'd both like to start trying for a baby.
Be considerate of your partner's thoughts and realistic about your timeline. Make sure you understand each other's concerns and desires.
You don't need to be a millionaire to have a baby (although that would be nice!).
But it's important to make sure you have the resources to support your growing family.
Do you have money in savings? Do you plan to buy a house or rent?
Do you have stable jobs? Will one of you stay home or will you pay for childcare? Can you pay for medical bills through pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond?
Be realistic about what you can and can't afford, and start budgeting now for your future family.
Now's the time to start thinking seriously about both you and your partner's health. You both want to be as healthy as possible before, during, and after pregnancy.
Smoking, drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption are not only detrimental to your health, but to your future child's health as well.
Start creating healthy habits now that will continue during and after pregnancy. Make sure you're eating well and exercising regularly.
If you have any health concerns, now is the time to address them with your doctor.
Being an adult is hard work. Being an adult with a child to look after is even harder! Take some time now to make sure you have all your ducks in a row, including:
Now is the time to think about the things you want to accomplish before having a baby. Maybe you want to take a trip to Italy, get that promotion, buy a house, or finish graduate school?
Maybe you want to run a half-marathon, learn a new language, or take a pottery class? Of course, all of this is possible to accomplish after you have a baby, but it will be much more challenging to find the time to meet your goal.
Whatever your dream, make a plan to achieve it so that you don't regret it later. The truth is, no one can ever be 100 percent ready to have a baby, and life will always throw surprises your way.
But there are specific steps you can take now to be as prepared possible when you decide to bring a new bundle of joy into the world.
Most people are conscious that smoking can seriously inhibit your chances of falling pregnant. According to NHS Choices 'smoking may reduce fertility in women by reducing egg quality and that includes passive smoking'; and the website includes sources of advice if you are trying to quit.
Research also proves that smoking can also linked to early menopause in women and damaged sperm in men, so my advice to women and men alike is make quitting smoking your new year's resolution for 2018!
Achieving your optimal weight is important when trying to conceive. The NHS says 'being overweight or underweight can affect a woman's chances of conceiving. Too much or too little body fat can make your periods irregular or stop them completely, which can affect your ability to conceive.' The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has also found that obesity is associated with decreased fertility and increased risk of miscarriages.
Linked to the above, exercise is key factor improving the quality of your overall health and increasing chances of conception. A study in Obstetrics & Gynaecology concluded that women who exercised 30 minutes or more daily had a reduced risk of infertility due to ovulation disorders.
Equally, it is crucial to make sure that you are not over-exercising as some data links too much vigorous exercise with reduced levels of certain hormones that can impact negatively on your fertility, as both a 2009 study in Human Reproduction and a Harvard study of elite athletes found.Get Active
Whether you are trying for the first time, or have been for a while, knowing about your menstrual cycle and the best time for conception can be very helpful.
There is six day fertile window in each cycle – the five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation (when your body releases the egg) – when the chance of conception is increased. Having sex regularly (every two/three days) is a good way to help to meet this fertile window but if you would like to be more precise then you will need to know how regular your periods are and the length of your cycle to pinpoint ovulation.
There are lots of handy apps that you can download to chart your monthly cycle and ovulation tests are widely available.
As well as helping you to achieve your optimum weight, a nutritionally balanced diet can be very beneficial for both men and women looking to conceive. Women should take a folic acid supplement to help prepare their body for pregnancy as this is key for cell growth.
It also is beneficial for both men and women to increase their intake of foods containing folate (the natural form of folic acid), such as green leafy vegetables and brown rice. In addition, taking supplements or eating foods rich in Vitamin D, E, B12, zinc, iron and selenium can prepare the body for pregnancy and contribute to healthy sperm.
Ask your mum about her age of menopause, as this will be highly relevant to you. If it occurred before 45 years old you should think about getting your egg reserve checked. The best tests are an ovarian follicle count (called antral follicle count or AFC), done by ultrasound scan, and an AMH blood test, which taken together will give you the information you need.
If the prognosis is not ideal, but you are also not ready to have a baby, then you may want to consider freezing your eggs – which acts to preserve healthier eggs until you are ready to use them.
Easy to say, hard to do! Trying for a baby – particularly if you have an underlying condition that makes it harder to fall pregnant, or are going through IVF – can be extremely stressful.
Stress levels can then often impact on levels of interest in sex and it goes without saying that having sex more frequently is better for your chances of conceiving. Try to take time out to relax, spend time together as a couple doing something you enjoy and try and plan mini breaks as a means of reducing stress levels Taking up meditative exercises such as yoga or Pilates can help you learn how to relax and will promote enhanced sleep.
If you're thinking about having a baby, then do start by thinking about these recommended steps before resorting to expensive treatments. If greater clarification would help to clear your mind then "one-stop fertility MOTs" can help to either offer reassurance of your fertility health or provide direction in what help your body may need in falling pregnant.
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