Once you’re pregnant, your thoughts turn towards what you have to do for your soon-to-arrive baby, and the changes in your body means that there are a lot of things you won’t be able to do as easily. In particular, “I wish I’d thought of doing that before I got pregnant!” is a common refrain among first-time mothers. If this is your first pregnancy, here’s where you can learn from Moms who’ve been down this track before you.
Let’s run through some of the commonly-overlooked points you’ll want to take care of before Baby is on the scene. Even if you’re already pregnant, take a look too – it’s not too late to get some of these out of the way!
Preparing for pregnancy? Step 1: Go to the dentist
This point is often overlooked, but try to get dental appointments out of the way before trying to get pregnant. This doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to go to the dentist while you’re pregnant: rather, it’s the relatively long periods of physical discomfort and tension that go with a dentist visit that can be stressful on mothers’ bodies.
This is particularly true for major treatments where you need an anaesthetic. Dental work is no fun at the best of times, but it’s best to get it out of the way now. That way, you won’t have to suffer through a combination of morning sickness or a kicking baby and a raging toothache later down the track.
Step 2: Cut back on alcohol
This is a well-known point, but it bears repeating: It’s safest not to drink any alcohol at all during pregnancy. They write that on the labels for a reason, you know.
The more alcohol you drink, the greater your baby’s risk of low birth weight, and birth defects such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. You might hear that it’s OK to drink small amounts of alcohol while you’re pregnant, but really? The science on how small amounts of alcohol could affect a developing baby is not clear, so it’s best not to risk it. For your baby’s sake, lay off the sauce!
That said, if your usual social calendar involves, or even revolves around a lot of drinks, stopping suddenly might feel a bit strange. Before you get pregnant, take the time to find some sober ways to socialize, and look for some tasty non-alcoholic drinks you can enjoy.
Step 3: Get your hair done
Keeping the same hairstyle for your whole pregnancy might be a bit of a bore, but once you’re pregnant, it can be difficult to make time to go to your usual salon. Also, if your hair takes a while to style – for example, if you usually have your hair permed, dyed or relaxed – then sitting down for the whole process could become uncomfortable once you’re pregnant.
In theory, the chemicals used in some dyes, perms and relaxers are also not safe for pregnant women. However, in reality, your exposure during a single treatment is minimal, so after the first trimester you should be alright.
The big exception here is keratin straightener (also known as “Brazilian Keratin Treatment”). These products contain toxic formaldehyde, which has been linked to miscarriage and pregnancy complications. Err on the side of caution here and avoid anything with “Keratin” or “Brazilian” in the name if you’re pregnant.
At any rate, pregnancy makes your skin and sense of smell more sensitive than usual, so it might be best to avoid the harsh chemicals used in hair dyes, perms and relaxers.
In general, hair dye and treatment isn’t exactly verboten when you’re pregnant, as is the case for tobacco and alcohol. However, if you’re concerned about chemicals, consider just getting highlights, or sticking to an all-natural or botanical product. Another option might be to think about some natural hairstyles you can rock without needing to spend too much time in the salon!
Step 4: Break up with coffee and other caffeine sources
This is bad news for tea and coffee lovers, but you’re going to need to steer clear of caffeine during pregnancy. Caffeine has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth, as well as low birth weight, and it has also been shown to have an effect on breast milk production after birth. If you account for the pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, that means 2 years or so that you’ll need to minimize or avoid caffeine.
If 2 years without coffee and tea sounds like your worst nightmare, try switching to decaf coffee during your pregnancy. You’ll need to be careful about herbal teas during pregnancy, as some could harm your baby – but baby-safe blends like lemon balm or peppermint can be another great option for relaxing with a hot drink. Of course, you can cross that bridge when you get to it: for now, enjoy all those espressos before you get pregnant!
Step 5: Splurge at the day spa
Pregnancy can make it more difficult than usual to enjoy a day spa routine, as sitting still for long periods of time can become very uncomfortable as your belly grows. Some day spas do offer special maternity massage and beauty service packages for moms-to-be, but you may not be able to find this at your go-to salon.
In order to avoid triggering morning sickness or placing excess stress on pregnant moms’ bodies, spas and salons have to avoid certain treatments during pregnancy. For instance, when your belly gets larger, you won’t be able to lie down on your stomach, which limits some of the massage treatments you can receive. If you love going to day spas, go all out before you get pregnant and splurge on some things you know you’ll really enjoy!
Step 6： Get out and see the world
When you’re down with the morning sickness of early pregnancy, or feeling weighted down by your growing belly later on, you barely want to leave your house – let alone go on vacation! Long-distance travel can be a pain when you’re pregnant, and your new baby will probably leave you too busy to go on holiday for a while. Before you get pregnant, try to get out there and enjoy a trip while you can make the most of it!
Obstetricians generally agree that air travel is safe as long as the mother is healthy, the baby isn’t due for a while, and there are no complications with the pregnancy. Most airlines allow pregnant travelers on board until Week 36.
The second trimester (Week 14 to 27) might be the best window of opportunity, as your morning sickness will have likely settled down and the risk of miscarriage and other common pregnancy emergencies has diminished. Discuss any travel plans with your OB-GYN to make sure it’s a good idea in your case – or better yet, cross a few destinations off your wish-list before you get pregnant!
Prepare for pregnancy by enjoying life to the full
Pregnancy means a lot of things will be off-limits to you for a while, so it’s best to take care of those before you go about starting your brood – or adding another to it, for that matter. If you make the most of the time you have now before you become pregnant, you’ll be able to enjoy your pregnancy and new family life all the more!