Preparing for Another Pregnancy (part 1) - The pre-pregnancy checklist,Why weight matters

- Give Up Coffee For Beautiful Breasts
- Welcome to your First Trimester
- Welcome to your Second Trimester
- Welcome to your Third Trimester

The pre-pregnancy checklist

Do

  • Try to reach a healthy weight.
  • Take a supplement containing 400 µg of folic acid. This is important in the very early days after conception before you know you are pregnant and will reduce your risk of having a baby with spina bifida or a neural tube defect.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Be careful about general food hygiene .
  • Exercise to keep fit and relieve stress, but avoid rigorous exercise programmes as these can reduce fertility.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are taking any prescription drugs or herbal medicines.
  • Relax and make the most of life. You may get pregnant straightaway, but it could take some time. Stress reduces fertility and there won’t be much time for relaxing once your new baby arrives.

Don’t

  • Drink alcohol. It can cause birth defects and increase the risk of miscarriage. If you do decide to drink, stick to no more than 1 to 2 units once or twice a week and avoid getting drunk. Your partner should cut down too: not only for moral support, but because even moderate drinking can lower his sperm count.
  • Eat liver or take supplements such as cod liver oil, which contain high levels of vitamin A.
  • Eat shark, swordfish or marlin, and don’t have more than two tuna steaks or four 200-g cans of tuna a week. Traces of mercury in these fish can affect your baby’s nervous system.
  • Drink too much coffee, tea and other drinks containing caffeine.
  • Smoke or take recreational drugs such as cannabis.

Why weight matters

Your weight before you get pregnant can affect your fertility and your baby’s health. If you are unsure whether your weight is appropriate for your height. Being underweight can make it more difficult to conceive and increases the risk of miscarriage in the first trimester of pregnancy. It can also increase the risk of your baby having a low birth weight and being unwell.

Being overweight can also reduce your fertility. A study in Denmark found that obese couples were three times more likely to have trouble conceiving compared with couples of a normal weight. Being overweight also increases the risk of complications during pregnancy, including infections, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia and diabetes, and the risk of birth defects, including heart and limb deformities. Another problem is that being overweight makes it more difficult for your midwife to monitor your baby during pregnancy and labour, and there is a greater chance of problems arising during the birth.

Don’t be unduly concerned if you are overweight or underweight. These are risks, not certainties, and they are intended to show why it is important to reach a healthy weight. At the same time, you are in an ideal position now to do something about it and to increase the chances of everything going well.

Still carrying weight from your last pregnancy?

Mothers who don’t manage to lose the weight they gained in their first pregnancy increase the risk of complications when they become pregnant again. A Swedish study of more than 150,000 women found that even small weight gains could be a problem. Women who gained just 1 or 2 BMI units following their first pregnancy (around 6–12 lb) were 20–40% more likely to go on to suffer from high blood pressure or gestational diabetes than those who retained less weight. Gaining more than 3 BMI units presented further problems, increasing the risk of stillbirth by 60% and the risk of pre-eclampsia by more than 70%.

The risks weren’t only increased in women who became classified as overweight or obese following their first pregnancy. They also applied to women who were still classified as normal weight but who had gained weight. If you are one of the many mums affected by lingering baby fat, then you need to make some long-term changes to your diet and physical activity. To start with, why not get your little one in the pushchair, by the hand or on a bike and head for the park – it’ll do you both some good.

 
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