Becoming parents is a big deal and if it’s for the first time, there is a lot of anxiety and anticipation that comes along with it too.
By pursuing good health and proper nutrition before conceiving, one can increase their chances for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Dr Vaishali Joshi, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Kokilaben Hospital and Cloudnine Hospital Mumbai, shares: “Everyone is highly qualified and career-oriented and they want to decide when they want to have their baby. When you are making that decision then you should also decide when to have the baby because a healthy mother is a key to a healthy baby.”
With over 25 years of experience in managing early pregnancy problems, recurrent miscarriages and tubal and ovarian cyst problems, high-risk pregnancy with evidence-based medicine and thereafter promotes natural childbirth, Dr Joshi lays down various aspects a couple needs to keep in mind while planning a baby!
The ideal age to plan
Whenever you are ready! Gone are the days when the average age to get married was 20. Now as the average age of marriage has increased and women are getting more career-oriented, the right time would be when the couple is mentally and financially ready.
Ideally, a woman’s fertility declines after the age of 35 so the peak age of fertility and having babies nowadays is between the age of 27-32. Also, if you wish to delay you must also check with the doctor that how practical and feasible it is for your body and how much is your reserve for the fertility that can let you stretch or delay the pregnancy planning. That’s important. There is also something like freezing your eggs if not prepared at the right time. This will at least help to have your babies at a later stage even if your fertility declines with age. As the mother’s age increases the fertility of a woman goes down which is significant after the age of 35.
Visit a gynaecologist
Health is a priority and it’s always better to conceive naturally. Before a couple starts planning, it’s always better that they visit a doctor to see if there are any hidden health issues as not all the health problems manifest symptoms; like low haemoglobin, vitamin deficiency, thyroid or some hormonal imbalance. These are just some of the medical conditions that need to be addressed/tested by the medical professional or gynaecologist. Internal examinations or sonography is also carried out to see if there are any issues with the internal organs, uterus or ovaries. Sometimes women have cyst or fibroid, which can affect the ability to conceive sometimes, though not always. These are the kind of issues which one may not be aware of and needs to be investigated.
If the woman has any medical conditions, we need to make sure that its safe for the woman to conceive. The conditions need to be under control, because if one conceives before this, the woman may develop serious complications. If someone is on medication like for instance has fits and is on anti-fits medicine or epileptic medicines then we would provide that medication with the least possible dose, rather than stopping the tablets so that the mother’s health doesn’t get affected; and at the same time she has a healthy baby. Such medicines can go across the placenta to the baby leading to developmental defects in the baby, the idea here is to protect the mother and the unborn baby as well and optimise the pregnancy outcome.
While one needs to optimize the health, there are a lot of other factors that a couple/family needs to keep in mind like financial planning for the baby and financial security, health insurance and if it covers maternity or not.
It is advisable to start using folic acid to make sure that when you conceive the baby has an advantage of folic acid right from the time of conception because folic acid is very important for the baby’s development particularly neurological development.
If a couple has been using any contraception then this needs to be discussed with the doctor as to how soon it needs to stop before you start planning a family.
It’s not only from the treatment point of view but one needs to improve their lifestyle, exercise, eat healthily and have a holistic approach before they start planning a family because you want to give your baby the best. This is similar in the case of a pregnancy. If the lifestyle involves smoking, alcohol, pan masala, gutka, indulging in recreational drugs …it will have an effect on the man’s sperm count and the sexual desire like libido and hence the sexual act.