While it is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, planning for children is also one of the most challenging! Here are some tips to help keep things sailing a little smoother.
While you don’t have to be the perfect picture of health before you start planning for a pregnancy, there are a few things that both mums and dads-to-be can do to make both the pregnancy and baby as healthy as possible. Regular, low-intensity exercise can be carried out during both conception and pregnancy, but discuss other exercise with your doctor if you have any concerns.
It’s also a good idea for couples planning for a baby to have a look at their diets, and consider whether they’re getting enough fruits, vegetables and wholegrains each day. Don’t forget to take into account how much you are consuming in the way of caffeine, alcohol and medications too.
Approximately three months before you start trying to conceive, women should increase their intake of folic acid. This is a vitamin that can be found in leafy greens, cereals and supplements. Likewise, men should make sure they are getting enough zinc and selenium at least three months before conception.
Visiting your GP
Before you start trying for a baby, visit your doctor to get a full check-up and discuss your plans. It’s not unusual for your doctor to order some blood and urine tests before giving you the green light, so make sure to follow their advice. Other things up for discussion may include blood pressure, any contraception you are on and your medical history. You should make a point of making a detailed list of this before your GP visit. You can also ask for a referral to an obstetrician or midwife, or you can choose to balance your care between your GP and a specialist.
Working on your relationship
Raising a child is challenging no matter what your circumstances, but couples can ease the stress involved by sitting down and having a candid discussion about expectations before the baby arrives. Having a child to look after may involve adjusting into more traditional roles for some couples, or the complete opposite for others. Make sure to decide how the childcare and household duties will be divvied up between the two of you, while also setting aside some time for each partner to have to themselves.
Sorting out your finances
It may be mostly diapers and baby food in the early days, but many couples can struggle to adjust to the change in income if one partner stops working. Likewise, if both you and your partner continue working, childcare can be expensive. It’s a good idea to speak to a financial planner about your economic situation, and don’t forget that you may be eligible for government assistance such as a Maternity Payment or Family Tax Benefit.
At the end of the day, keeping yourself healthy, being open and honest in your relationship and sorting out any potential financial difficulties you may face will all help in easing the transition into a new chapter of your lives.