Is motherhood on cards for you or are thinking about it? Are the talks on with your husband? There are certain questions one needs to ask themselves before taking the leap. Who doesn’t want a healthy baby? Planning a healthy pregnancy is essential for both the mother and child. Preconception care will help in easing the process to get pregnant. It prepares you before and during the pregnancy in order for you to have a smooth pregnancy. Preparing yourself mentally and physically before getting pregnant is essential. There are number of ways one can take care of themselves. From quitting bad habits to a complete lifestyle change – these necessary changes will bring about a happy and safe pregnancy. Below are few precautionary steps that will help you start a healthy pregnancy journey.

Visit your healthcare provider

Discuss with your doctor about your pregnancy plans. It will help in giving you a better understanding of your health history. If there are any issues, the doctor will identify the problem and provide you with solutions before giving a go ahead. He will examine the medications (if you are on any), vaccinations that you might need before getting pregnant, and how to prevent certain birth defects. Write down all the queries and concerns, if you have any, before consulting your doctor. This will give you further clarity.

Avoid smoking and drinking

If you are a regular drinker or smoker, you should stop it immediately. A mother’s health determines the health of her child. Smoking and consumption of alcohol can directly affect the baby’s health, and adverse effects can lead to premature birth, low-birth weight, several birth defects and mental retardation.

Consume folic

Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9, also known as folate, which is important before and post-pregnancy. It helps in prevention of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) – serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain. It is therefore imperative to begin taking folic acid before you plan your pregnancy. It is particularly important for the rapid cell growth of the placenta and your developing baby.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Nutrition and a healthy weight gain during pregnancy are essential. Many women follow the old wives tale ‘Eating for two’. However, this will only lead to excess weight gain. Women who are obese or overweight face a lot of complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, a C-section, a miscarriage or even stillbirth. On the other hand, being underweight can also lead to serious health problems. Maintaining a healthy diet includes consumption of whole foods and a variety of fruits, adequate intake of water and regular physical activity.

Menstrual Cycle

You are most likely to get pregnant if you and your partner have sex within a day or so of ovulation. Ovulation is a process where an egg is released from the ovary. A regular period cycle takes about 28 days, it may vary for each woman. So a woman with a 28-day cycle, will ovulate on Day 14. Ovulation occurs 14 days before or after the first day of a woman’s period. It is difficult to identify when the actual ovulation takes place unless you are practising natural family planning method.

Following the above methods will not guarantee that you will get pregnant, but it will increase the chances of your pregnancy. An infant’s health primarily depends on the health of the mother. All the nutrients the mother consumes directly affects the growth of the baby. A well-balanced planning will act as a precautionary measure to protect your baby from adverse birth defects.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 16, 2018 06:33 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website