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Preconception Checklist: How to Prepare for a Baby

Preconception Checklist: How to Prepare for a Baby

 

When it comes to planning a pregnancy and raising kids, it's a big investment in terms of love, hope, time, and effort. There are a lot of things to consider, like emotional and practical factors, as well as personal health history and lifestyle choices.

Just searching for "pregnancy" on Google can lead to an overwhelming 126 million results. That's why we wanted to help you sift through the noise and give you some valuable, accurate, and actionable information.

First, let's talk about the emotional side of things. Being open and honest with yourself and your partner can help prepare you emotionally and practically when planning a pregnancy. There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to why you want to start a family, but you may want to explore some questions like:

  • Why do I want to have a baby?
  • How will a baby affect my relationship with my partner?
  • How will a baby impact my lifestyle and freedom?
  • How might my values, attitudes, and experiences influence my parenting?
  • What would I do and how would I cope if it's difficult to conceive?

 

Practical stuff to consider

While the romancing of the idea of having a baby and marketing and social media have you dreaming of rosy cheeks and giggles, the reality of having children also includes sleepless nights and making sacrifices personally, professionally and socially. 

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

A clear understanding of your responsibilities to your employer (if applicable) and your rights as an employee are essential to 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 specific 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 ends 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 essential. 

 

As Obstetric management and technologies improve, access to prenatal testing and the amount of information we can get about our pregnancies means that we are often left with difficult decisions. Understanding testing options and potential results can help you decide 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 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 are more likely to develop a genetic condition. It will include any information you can gather about illnesses and diseases 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.

 

Genetic carrier screening for both you and your pregnancy partner.

Eugene 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 and life-threatening genetic condition in your child. Some ethnicities are more likely to carry specific gene variants. 

1 out of 40 couples finds out they are carriers of the same condition. There's a 25% (1 in 4) chance that these couples could have a child affected by the condition.  

This can be overwhelming, but honestly, it's vital to know. Knowing your risk can help you make empowered choices about how you plan your pregnancy or even significantly reduce the risk of having a child affected by the condition. 

Eugene's experienced genetic counsellors are here to provide the support you need to understand your results and explore the potential next steps, which may include preparing for the birth of a child at increased risk, prenatal diagnosis, IVF with preimplantation genetic testing, or other equally important options.

 

Prenatal's and relevant health checks

Speak to your GP or obstetrician about the possible risks of any medications you take. There may be possible adverse 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. German Measles, Chicken Pox, The Flu vaccination and Whooping cough are all recommended for pregnant women and close family members. Check with your GP if you have any outstanding vaccinations.
  • Visit the dentist.
    • Routine dental treatment is safe during pregnancy, although some procedures or medication should be avoided in the first three months, so be sure to tell your dentist you are pregnant.
  • Take Folic Acid supplments.
    • 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 baby's growth - it's essential to have both mum and dad fit and healthy: 

  • Stop smoking. 
    • Terrible for your health and can lead to growth problems for 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.
    • The 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 essential for mum and baby.