It is possible to plan a pregnancy in a way and at a time that makes it possible for mother and baby to have the best possible outcomes.
Pregnancy planning can help a mother become healthier and better prepared for a pregnancy in order that her pregnancy is easier and her baby is healthier upon arrival.
Aspects of pregnancy planning
Physical Health – Any condition such as diabetes, heart problems and so on should be brought into control before getting pregnant.
If a woman is overweight or underweight she should consider getting her weight into the normal ranges to avoid pregnancy complications.
Any chronic illness (anemia, thyroid imbalances and so on), sexually transmitted disease or infection should be addressed these could, in cases prevent a pregnancy.
Emotional and mental health – Mental health problems can negatively impact a pregnancy so getting into good mental health (including adjusting any medication dosages) should be a part of pregnancy planning. Regular exercise and relaxation techniques can be used to reduce and control stress.
Professional counseling as well as social and family support are other aspects that will boost emotional wellbeing.
Immunizations, supplements and Tests – Any required immunizations should be up to date. Also make sure that vaccines such as rubella have not been taken at least 6 months before conception. A folic acid supplement can be started and any nutritional deficiencies can be addressed with the help of a multivitamin, calcium or iron supplements.
If there are certain genetic problems in the family certain pre-pregnancy tests may also be advisable
Pregnancy planning (age and spacing)
A woman herself can decide best, when she is emotionally, physically, mentally and financially equipped to deal with a pregnancy and taking care of a new life.
While women can and should wait until they are at a stage in life when they want a child and are fully prepared for the responsibilities it brings, it is important not to leave it too late. The quality of eggs may deteriorate and the chances of miscarriage and birth defects increase with maternal age.
How to space pregnancies and the age gap to have between children is another aspect of pregnancy planning.
Having a very small age gap or having a very large age gap between children can increase the chances of a woman having pregnancy and delivery complications (low birth weight, premature delivery etc).
It is therefore best to plan children about 2 and a half to three years apart in age or wait at least 18 to 24 months after one pregnancy to get pregnant again. It is also recommended that a woman should wait no longer than 60 months (5 years) to have another child.
Pregnancy planning for Dad
Substance abuse, smoking and other lifestyle factors such as obesity, chronic disease and so on can affect male fertility. Certain sexually transmitted infections can also lower male fertility. So men looking to become fathers should give up smoking and start to lead a healthy lifestyle to give a future child the best possible start in life.