8 Things To Do If You're Thinking About Having A Baby

OK, can I make a confession? You know Facebook’s On This Day feature? It has been completely wrecking me with adorable photos of Violet as a baby lately. Violet was the chubbiest chicken of all chubby chickens and maybe it’s because I’m feeling emotional about the fact that she is officially moving on to first grade (after finishing kindergarten this spring) but seriously, those photos are WRECKING ME [insert ugly tears]!

Anyway, though I do feel that our family is complete, I clearly have babies on my mind (it's clearly time for me to bring food to, and do a drive-by snuggle for, my friend who just had a baby) so this is a fitting time to share the next in an editorial series I am working on with Tufts Medical Center. Today, Megan Evans, MD, MPH, shares 8 essential things to consider if you’re thinking about having a baby.

1. Go to the doctor

Make an appointment with your primary health care provider or OB/GYN to schedule a complete physical and get up to date with routine exams. Talk to your doctor about whether or not any medication you are currently taking is safe if you become pregnant.

2. Stop smoking & eliminate alcohol consumption

Smoking and drinking alcohol not only decrease a woman’s chance of getting pregnant, but some babies born to women who smoke and drink are born with physical and intellectual disabilities.

3. Limit your caffeine intake

Caffeine is a stimulant that causes your blood vessels to constrict, increases your heart rate, and elevates blood pressure. In addition, your baby doesn’t have the ability to metabolize it as quickly as you can, so it can damage its developing cells. The March of Dimes advises women to limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day.

4. Eat healthy and exercise

Healthy eating habits and regular exercise can help you physically prepare yourself for pregnancy, childbirth, and post-delivery activities. If you are overweight, losing weight prior to pregnancy can help decrease your risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm delivery.

Baby 4.png

5. Start taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid—even before you get pregnant

Folic acid can decrease the occurrence of neural tube defects in pregnancy, and women should take at least 400 micrograms a day. Your OB will let you know if you need a higher dose.

6. Figure out where you want to deliver your baby—and with whom

Have you decided on a hospital? If so, make certain that your OB/GYN has privileges there and that it’s easily accessible. The closer you get to your due date, the more appointments there will be.

7. Look into childcare options

If you plan on returning to work after your baby is born, you’ll need to have a childcare plan. Research nannies and daycare facilities, talk to friends, and visit possible locations. Some popular daycare facilities have long waiting lists, in particular for infant care. Put your name on the list as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.

8. Take a look at your medical benefits

Your insurance company might prefer specific providers and hospitals. If you prefer something different, consider the costs and whether your partner’s plan might have better coverage or access. Think about how much time you’ll want to take for maternity leave—and find out how much your employer will offer, both paid and unpaid. For reference: The FMLA (Federal Family and Medical Leave Act) guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn if you’ve worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours before you need the benefit. The MMLA (Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act) provides for eight weeks of unpaid leave if you have worked full time for your employer for at least three months.

Once you’re pregnant, you’ll be faced with plenty of choices: baby names, nursery paint colors, cloth or disposable diapers. Choosing your obstetrician is even more important. At Tufts Medical Center’s Women’s Care, our obstetricians enjoy getting to know mothers-to-be and providing information and support throughout your pregnancy. We start by providing your first appointment within a week of your first call to us, and help you plan your pregnancy, every step of the way. We believe so strongly in our Maternity Services that many of our doctors have delivered their own babies at Tufts Medical Center.

Disclaimer: The content provided in this post is intended solely for the information of the reader. This information is not medical advice and should not replace a consultation with a medical professional.

Disclosure: This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Tufts Medical Center. All personal commentary about how Facebook is making me obsess about babies are, of course, my own.

Featured photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash