A checklist for planning a pregnancy

In terms of love, hope, time and effort, planning a pregnancy and raising children can be the greatest investment people make. There are emotional considerations to be made. Practical logistics to be juggled. Personal health history to be juggled and lifestyle and diet factors to consider. And that’s just the beginning. 

Just googling ‘Pregnancy’ yields 126,000,000 results. It’s possibly one of the biggest google black holes you can fall into. The blogs, websites and forums offer more answers to questions you didn’t know you wanted.  We wanted to filter through that noise and give you some actionable information that’s accurate and actually useful. So, here goes: 

Emotional stuff to consider

Being open and honest with yourself (and your partner) helps prepare you emotionally and practically when planning a pregnancy. When it comes to the “why” of starting a family, there are no right or wrong answers, but you may want to explore some of these questions.

Consider writing down responses to the questions below and then discussing them with your partner. For many couples this may be the first time you share your hopes, values and expectations of starting a family. Exploring what you perceive to be the benefits, risks and challenges will create an shared space that can highlight what support you would like from your partner and where you can look for additional support.

  • Why do I want to have a baby?
  • If you’re with a partner, how do we think a baby will affect our relationship?
  • How will a baby affect my lifestyle and freedom, now and in the future?
  • How might my values, attitudes and experiences influence the way I parent?
  • How might my culture and religion influence the way I plan my pregnancy? 
  • What would I do and how would I cope if it is difficult to conceive?
  • Who’s on my care team? GP, friends, family?

 

Practical stuff to consider

While the romance of having a baby cannot be denied and the marketing agencies and social media outlets have you dreaming of rosy-cheeks and giggles, the reality of having children also includes sleepless nights, making sacrifices personally, professionally and socially. 

  • How will a baby impact me financially?
  • How will a baby affect my job or career?

Having a clear understanding of your responsibilities to your employer (if applicable) and your rights as a employee are an important part of balancing your finances when planning a pregnancy.

  • Consider health insurance cover – Private Health Insurers typically have a 12-month waiting period where you can’t claim any pregnancy-related expenses.
  • All Australian residents are eligible for Medicare and so are certain categories of visitors to Australia. – You can check your eligibility for Medicare at the Department of Human Services.

What options might I consider if something goes wrong during pregnancy?

Miscarriage is unfortunately an all too common part of trying to have a baby. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks. Having a doctor, friends or family members who can help support you and your partner during this difficult time is important.

As Obstetric management and technologies improve, access to prenatal testing and the amount of information we are able to get about our pregnancies means that we are often left with difficult decisions. Understanding testing options and potential results can help empower you to making decisions if and when needed.

Health stuff to consider

Just like most other major decisions in life, pregnancy is something that benefits from careful planning. To provide the best care for both yourself and your baby, being well-informed and prepared can empower you to make decisions that feel right for you.

Explore your personal and family health history

Your family health history can help you identify whether you have an increased chance of developing a genetic condition. It will include any information you can gather about illnesses and diseases that are present in your family. For instance – if your grandmother had breast cancer or your father’s sister had heart disease. Your ethnic background also influences what type of genetic traits you may carry.

Consider genetic carrier testing

Eugene Labs offers fully supported access to pre-pregnancy genetic carrier screening. This at-home genetic test checks to see if you or your partner carry a rare gene variant that could cause a serious genetic disease in your child. Some ethnicities are more likely to carry certain gene variants, however as we all know risk is a part of pregnancy.

Review current medications and do relevant health checks

Speak to your GP or obstetrician about possible risks of any medications you are taking as there may possible negative side effects for you and the baby – before, during or after pregnancy.

  • Have a breast check and pap smear
  • Ensure vaccinations are up to date: Pregnant women are more susceptible to infection and illness. Check with your GP if you have any outstanding vaccinations. German Measles, Chicken Pox, The Flu vaccination and Whooping cough are all recommended for pregnant women and close family members.
  • Visit the dentist— Routine dental treatment is safe during pregnancy, although some procedures or medication should be avoided in the first 3 months, so be sure to tell your dentist you are pregnant.
  • Folic Acid — Start taking 0.5mg folic acid when you start trying to conceive. Folate reduces the risk of neural tube defects in babies.

Diet and Lifestyle

The health of both women and men is important to consider when planning a pregnancy. To maximise your chance of conceiving, and support the growth of the baby and cope with the enormous changes it will bring, it’s important to have both mum and dad fit and healthy. 

  • Stop smoking — Smoking is bad for your health and can lead to growth problems of your baby during pregnancy. Smoking also affects male fertility.
  • Stop alcohol and other social drugs — There is no proven ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption. Drug interactions are unpredictable and dangerous for the growing baby
  • Reduce or stop caffeine intake — Limiting caffeine intake to 1 cup of coffee or 2 cups of tea should keep you in the safe zone.
  • Follow a healthy diet sticking to freshly cooked and prepared foods.
  • Establish a good exercise routine — A woman’s body stretches and grows in ways you’d never imagine, to support a growing baby. Understanding how to support this growth safely is important both for mum and baby.

 

Written by
Zoe

Zoë is a co-founder at Eugene and has been counselling couples in reproductive genetics for over 10 years. She is passionate about improving access to ethical genetic testing in a emotionally supportive and culturally sensitive environment. Zoe wants to empower people with knowledge of the genetic identity rather than fear it.

Get early access

Can't wait till Eugene is shipping? You know what, us too! Sign up below and we'll send you exclusive early-bird access and pricing. Our tests begin shipping mid-2018.

Starting a family?

Eugene's pre-pregnancy carrier test is like a checkup to see if you or your partner are carrying any genetic disease that could be passed on to your children.

Learn more

Recent posts

How are embryos selected during IVF cycles?

In order to be able to ‘select’ an embryo – we need to first understand IVF, as this is the process that gives rise to embryos in a laboratory setting. […]

Read on...

A checklist for planning a pregnancy

In terms of love, hope, time and effort, planning a pregnancy and raising children can be the greatest investment people make. There are emotional considerations to be made. Practical logistics […]

Read on...