Like most big projects, your pregnancy will benefit from a little bit of pre-planning. Here’s my ten-point checklist.
1. Take stock. The decision to become a parent is a big deal. We all make great plans for the birth of our baby but that’s one day in a lifetime of parenting. Don’t forget to give some thought to the type of parent you want to be. Try this: which of my personal values do I most wish to foster in my child?
2. Get educated. You are about to enter a new world with its own language. What are trimesters? Stages of labour? Delayed cord clamping? Check out Up the Duff On the Go on the App Store for comprehensive info on your phone.
3. Exercise. Before you are pregnant it doesn’t matter what the exercise is as long as you’re doing something regularly. Later, when you are expecting, the exercise will change but you will already be in the habit.
4. Smoking. This is the perfect, optimistic, motivated time for you and your partner to quit. www.quit.org.au
5. Dentist. My patients often call and ask me if it’s safe to have a dental procedure done in pregnancy. The answer is usually yes. In fact, not attending to dental problems can increase a woman’s risk of premature labour. Your dentist will call me if he or she wishes to discuss any special situations.
6. Names. It’s not too early and may be a different focus for you if things start getting too serious. Start throwing a few ideas around. Try them out with your last name. Check for embarrassing initials. Our boys (no stealing) are Dempsey, Ronin, Sullivan and Rex and of course, Patrick is a timeless classic :)
7. Insurance. Private health insurance cover should be increased to cover obstetrics, if you are unsure then call your insurance company. This needs to be done at least one year before the birth. To be really safe, health cover should be increased six months before you start “trying”.
8. Folate. This vitamin has been proven to lower the risk of major abnormalities of the fetal nervous system (anencephaly and spina bifida). I recommend a simple folate tablet from your pharmacy. No prescription is required. You can increase to a multivitamin (containing folate) once the pregnancy is confirmed.
9. Chart your cycle. With an app such as 'iPeriod' or 'Kindara' you can enter your menstrual dates and the app will highlight the fertile time in your cycle. I'm yet to feel confident that the Apps can track an irregular cycle and needs further discussion with your doctor or me but if you have a regular cycle, they are great.
10. See your local doc. A visit to your GP is a great idea before you start “trying”. The GP can check blood pressure, review vaccination status and optimize the management of any pre-existing medical conditions.