You have decided that you would like to start a family (or to grow your existing one). This is a great first step. However, before you start tying for a baby, we would recommend some tests and interventions in order to maximize your chances for a healthy pregnancy.
Visit your gynaecologist
A visit to your gynaecologist is important in order to diagnose any medical problems that need to be dealt with before you start trying for a baby i.e. diabetes. Furthermore, your doctor will advise you regarding the medications and food that need to be avoided during pregnancy.
Visit your dentist
Visiting your dentist is equally important as visiting your gynaecologist. Pregnancy could affect dental health and vice versa dental health could affect pregnancy outcome. Moreover, pregnancy hormones could exacerbate dental and gum diseases that are related to pregnancy complications such as preterm birth.
Check your family history
It is advised that both you and your partner check your family medical history in order to find if there is a history of genetic, chromosomal or congenital diseases. You need to be aware that the commonest hereditary conditions in the Greek population are: thalassaemia, cystic fibrosis, congenital deafness and spinal muscular atrophy. If there is a family history of a hereditary condition you need to mention it to your doctor.
Past obstetric history
If you had any complications in your previous pregnancy (i.e. preterm birth, preeclampsia) or if you have a history of recurrent miscarriages, you need to discuss with your doctor possible interventions in order to prevent recurrence of these conditions.
The suggested prenatal tests aim to diagnose conditions that could adversely affect your pregnancy.
- Full blood count
- Haemoglobin electrophoresis
- Blood group and Rhesus
- Thyroid function
- Check for congenital infections
Rubella (IgM and IgG)
Congenital rubella infection is a rare disease nowadays due to vaccination. However, if you are not immune to rubella it is recommended that you get vaccinated at least one month before you start trying for a baby. If you get infected by rubella in the 1st trimester of pregnancy, the fetus could be severely affected. Congenital rubella infection could cause deafness, eye abnormalities, congenital heart disease and mental retardation.
CMV (IgM and IgG)
Congenital CMV infection in the 1st trimester of pregnancy could affect the fetal brain, liver and ear and could cause mental retardation and deafness.
Toxoplasma (IgM and IgG)
Congenital toxoplasma infection in the 1st trimester of pregnancy could cause miscarriage, mental retardation and eye disorders.
If you did not have the tetanus vaccine, it is recommended that you have it before starting trying for a baby. Similarly, if you are not immune to rubella, it is recommended to have the MMR vaccine and wait for at least 1 month before start trying for a baby. If you are at risk of being infected by hepatitis B, is also recommended to be vaccinated against hepatitis B before pregnancy.
Treat chronic diseases
If you suffer from diabetes, asthma, hypertension, epilepsy or any other chronic medical condition, you need to ensure that the medical condition is well controlled and that you have your physician’s permission to get pregnant.
Improve your diet
You do not need to eat for two, but you need to have a well-balanced diet. It is very important to get the amount of folic acid that is necessary for pregnancy. Folic acid boosts fertility and reduces the risk of congenital abnormalities of the spine i.e. spina bifida. You could find folic acid in the green leafy vegetables. It is recommended that pregnant woman take 400μg of folid acid per day. It is also crucial to reduce the consumption of ready-made and fatty food and increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.
Control your weight
If you are overweight or underweight you have reduced chances of conceiving. Furthermore, if you eventually conceive, you have increased risk for pregnancy complications. It is recommended to keep your weight within normal range for your age and height and to follow a healthy balanced diet.
Exercise is important because it makes you feel happy and fit. You should however avoid very intense exercise that could cause ovulation disorders. Also, you should avoid sauna and any situation that leads to prolonged increase in your body temperature and heart rate.
Reduce caffeine intake
You do not have to cut down completely on coffee. On the contrary, one to two cups of coffee per day are not going to cause any problem. However, if you are consuming too much coffee you might experience difficulties getting pregnant.
It is important to reduce the alcohol consumption when you are trying to get pregnant. During pregnancy it is recommended that you do not drink alcohol.
Smoking adversely affects fertility and causes the ovarian follicles to age prematurely. It is also related to pregnancy complications like intrauterine fetal growth restriction.
Give it time
Deciding to have kids can be a thrilling time in your life, but it can also be unexpectedly stressful ― especially if you embark on the process and it doesn’t happen right away. A healthy woman younger than age 35 usually will conceive within 6 months. If you are older than age 35 and do not conceive within 6 months, you might need to visit your gynaecologist.
Relaxing is equally important as everything else mentioned so far. You are getting prepared for one of the biggest adventures of your life and you need to enjoy every moment of it!