Geetika Mehta is a 33-year old woman who has been married for a couple of years. A few weeks ago, Geetika came to Sitaram Bhartia to talk about preparing for pregnancy because she and her husband were in the early stages of planning a baby.
“I’ve always been on the heavier side” said Geetika “and diabetes runs in the family. When I came for my consultation, I wasn’t sure if I was diabetic or not. Moreover, my family members had warned me that conceiving could get difficult because of my weight. So I was really eager to start off on the right foot.”
A quick blood test confirmed that Geetika was pre-diabetic, so she would have to put in a little more effort in preparing for pregnancy.“I’m glad I found out about this before I got pregnant” she said. “I felt like I’d been given a little extra time to bring things under control while I prepared to get pregnant.”
Preparing for Pregnancy
Is it possible to prepare your body for pregnancy?
“Of course it’s possible” says Dr. Anita Sabherwal. “But there are several factors to consider. You need to have a healthy and balanced lifestyle; you need to manage your weight; if you have any chronic illnesses, then you need to bring them under control; and you may even need a few investigations or vaccinations before you try to conceive.”
Typically, obstetricians ask women to start taking a course of folic acid supplements for a few weeks before they try to conceive. “That’s really the most important step” says Dr. Anita. “Early pregnancy is a time when the baby’s organs begin to form and develop, and folic acid aids that development. It also helps prevent neural defects in the baby later on in the pregnancy.”
When Geetika began taking her folic acid supplements, she was also advised to revamp her lifestyle. “A healthy body is a good home for a healthy pregnancy” Dr. Anita told us. “Since Geetika was overweight, pre-diabetic, and led a largely sedentary life, it was important for her to get into good shape and adopt a healthy lifestyle while trying to conceive.”
We recommend following a healthy, balanced diet that does not include smoking, alcohol, or processed foods with a high sugar and fat content. “Generally speaking, you need to have about 4 -5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Avoid eating raw eggs, fish, or meat” says Dr. Anita. “And choose organic foods, as far as possible.”
And get yourself moving as much as possible. “If you’ve never been a highly active person, you can at least start going for a 30-45 minute walk every day. But stay away from polluted air. The idea is to target good health holistically.”
The Right Time to Conceive
“I also wanted to know when the best time would be for me to conceive” Geetika said. “I just couldn’t figure out my peak ovulation times.”
Because ovulation times vary for every woman and depend on the length of the menstrual cycle, an exact date is tricky to figure out. “In a typical 28-day menstrual cycle, peak ovulation times occur between the 10th and the 16th day” Dr. Anita said. “Your doctor is the best person to answer this question for you. You can also check your fertile period with the help of an ovulation kit.”
Preconception Investigations and Health Checks
During the preconception phase, women are screened for rubella and thalassemia traits.
“The chances of the mother transferring rubella to her baby are quite high if it’s contracted during pregnancy,” says Dr.Anita “so we generally don’t skip over that vaccination.”
You will be screened for chronic illnesses like diabetes, thyroid diseases, and high blood pressure. And if you’re struggling with illnesses like epilepsy or depression, bring these up with your doctor; you may need to have your medications or your dosage changed before you conceive.
Conceiving a baby is a significant decision that must be taken by both partners together. Ultimately, the goal for a mother is to stay happy and healthy so she can deliver a healthy baby, and her partner must support her through her journey.