Pre-Pregnancy Health Checklist for Men and Women
Most women know about the importance of taking a prenatal vitamin, quitting smoking and stopping drinking when planning for a healthy pregnancy and baby. But a healthy baby is largely dependent on the health of both the mother and the father before conception.
Before getting pregnant, here are some important issues for both men and women to think about.
Are there any birth defects, disabilities, or illnesses in your family or your partner's family that could be passed on to a future baby? If you have concerns, talk to a genetics counsellor.
Manage stress by eating healthy, exercising and getting a full night's sleep.
Stay away from chemicals such as lead, pesticides, solvents or mercury. Exposure can make it difficult to get pregnant and may cause health problems for the baby during pregnancy.
If you or your partner have not had chicken pox or rubella (German measles) you should be immunized before pregnancy.
Have your annual physical and talk to your doctor about your health. Cancer, mumps, diabetes, Hepatitis B, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV can affect your chances for making pregnancy happen or having a healthy baby.
Do some financial planning. Having a baby costs money - from clothing and food, to education and entertainment. There are ways to minimize the costs of a baby (e.g. toy libraries and co-operative babysitting) but it's a good idea to consider ways that you can decrease your overall spending and increase your savings.
Both men and women should stop drinking alcohol before trying to become pregnant. Drinking decreases a man's sperm count, making it harder to conceive and alcohol consumed by the mother-to-be may cause the baby to born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
Smoking can cause a baby to be born too soon or too small. If you or your partner smoke, stop before trying to conceive.
Being active before pregnancy can make it easier to stay active during pregnancy. Men and women should stay active by doing endurance, flexibility and strength exercises for at least 60 minutes four to seven days a week (even in ten minute increments).
- News Canada