Thinking of starting a family or continuing to grow your family? The process of conception and pregnancy can be full of unknowns, but there are certain things you can do before conception to increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Below, we outline five things to consider doing before getting pregnant.
- Find a Doctor You Trust
Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll visit your OBGYN at least once a month — weekly towards the end of your pregnancy. It’s important to find a doctor you feel comfortable with and fully trust. When looking for an OBGYN, consider asking your friends and family for referrals. You can then check and see which physicians are covered by your insurance plan before calling to ask if they’re accepting new patients.
- Get Tested for Inherited Genetic Mutations
Inherited genetic conditions are rare, but they can also happen when you least expected. In fact, many recessive genetic disorders occur in families with no history, because the disease is generally not seen in every generation. If you have a family history of a recessive genetic disorder, or if you’re interested in finding out if you carry a genetic mutation associated with a specific inherited genetic disorder, consider asking your doctor about genetic carrier screening. Genetic carrier screening can help your doctor understand the chance that you and your partner will have a child with an inherited genetic disorder.
- Focus on Your Health
An important part of maintaining a healthy pregnancy and ensuring the optimal health of your child includes focusing on your health. This goes for you to men — studies show that preconception health in the father is just as important as preconception health in the mother.
Preconception health includes your physical health, social health, and mental health. Researchers recommend making positive changes to your health at least three months before you plan to conceive: longer if you’re making changes that require extra time, such as reaching a healthy weight.
- Prepare a Solid Financial Plan
Having a baby is expensive — think hospital bills, lots of diapers, and childcare. Consider talking to your insurance company to ask how much they’ll cover for preconception care and hospital costs associated with birth. You’ll also want to do your homework and ensure that all healthcare providers involved in the birth are in-network with your insurance plan. This may include nurses, an anesthesiologist, and labs for any necessary lab testing. It’s important to have this list of in-network providers ahead of time, before you arrive at the hospital in labor, ready to deliver.
- Talk Parenting with Your Partner
You and your partner decided you want a baby. Congratulations! But it doesn’t stop there. Before having a baby, it’s important to address some of the most prominent parenting issues before getting pregnant: for example, how you’ll share the responsibilities of childcare and will one parent stay home? You’ll continue to discuss these issues as your baby grows, but getting the conversation started early can help couples find common ground.
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