January provides that natural nudge to reflect on our health, contemplate our bucket lists, and anticipate big life changes ahead. If this New Year you’re resolving to start or grow your family (or even just considering it), a few other resolutions can help you enter pregnancy as healthy and prepared as possible.
- Get a check-up. See a midwife, nurse-practitioner, or doctor for a preconception visit. This is a special kind of well woman visit, covered under most insurance plans, that focuses on getting you ready for pregnancy from a health perspective. A preconception visit is especially important if you haven’t had a check-up in more than a year, if you take medications or have health problems, or have concerns about your ability to get pregnant or carry a healthy pregnancy. Your provider might recommend different kinds of tests based your health history and concerns. She will also make personalized recommendations and coordinate referrals if needed for issues such as nutrition, genetic counseling, fertility services, or mental health care.
- Set nutrition and activity goals. Good nutrition and physical fitness before pregnancy can help prevent complications that come in late pregnancy or at birth, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and difficult labor. They can also help you set the foundation for lifelong health for both you and your future child. Whether you need a few tweaks or a reset button, a good place to start is with small, doable changes. The best wellness goals are the ones you make with a realistic plan – and the right support – to achieve them. Connecting with a wellness coach or a group program, or even just a buddy, can help you be accountable and reach whatever goals you set.
- Find your tribe and build your community. Speaking of buddies, now is a time to cultivate friendships and community. As you embark (or re-embark) on the journey to welcoming a child, shore up your support systems. It’s just plain easier and less stressful to go through pregnancy, birth, and the transition to parenthood with some practical help, emotional support, and wisdom from others. Research suggests it’s healthier, too. Strong social connections and a solid support network can reduce the chance of problems in pregnancy, like preterm birth or perinatal depression. Find classes or programs in your area, connect with a #TTC community online, or just invest in the relationships you already have.
- Learn about your maternity benefits and options. There’s no getting around the fact that having a baby has a financial impact. Some of it is impossible to predict and control, but there are plenty of proactive things people can do to rein in the costs and get as prepared as possible. The first big costs are the pregnancy and birth itself, and the time off from work. Take the time to explore programs you can opt into with your insurance program or employer, such as Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts. Make sure you and your partner understand your employers’ time off and parental leave policies so you can maximize these benefits and save what you will need during this time.
Interested in help making and sticking to your pre-pregnancy resolutions? well+prepared is Baby+Company’s innovative pre-pregnancy program, designed to help each woman or couple meet their own health and wellness goals, and to get as prepared as possible for a healthy pregnancy. Whether you are just beginning to plan for eventually having a baby, or you are actively trying to conceive, there are ways you can prepare for a healthier, easier pregnancy. Meet our team of midwives, educators, nurses, and health coaches for your personalized pre-pregnancy plan today.