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Community Advocacy Organization

Are You Planning for a Family? Here’s Where to Start.

iStock Photo-Family Planning

Planning to start a family is a very exciting journey. There is so much to do while getting ready to have a child, so it’s vital to know the steps to take to prepare yourself before and during pregnancy to ensure your own health and the health of your new baby.

Finding a good doctor and going to regular visits are extremely important. The first step is to make sure you are up to date on your annual physical.

“Your OB/GYN will review your full medical history, past surgeries, medical conditions and current medications, and any pertinent family history that you may have,” said Cheryl Foucher, DO, an OB/GYN physician at McLaren Greater Lansing Okemos Women’s Health. “Your doctor would also make sure you are up-to-date with pap smears and talk about any lifestyle changes that are recommended.”

Make a list of questions you may have. Maintain a healthy weight and balanced diet, exercise, get plenty of rest and find ways to manage stress.

“Make sure to also get plenty of folic acid before and during your pregnancy,” said Dr. Foucher. “Getting 400 micrograms of folic acid daily may help decrease risk of birth defects of the brain and spine. You can find folic acid in a daily women’s multivitamin, prenatal vitamins, and also in leafy green vegetables.”

It is also helpful to know that many women won’t get pregnant the first month they try. It could take longer than expected, so it’s good to know when it’s time to talk to your doctor.

“You should have a discussion with a physician if you have concerns, like large spaces between your periods. For women 35 and under, try naturally for a year. For women 35 and over, we recommend six months,” said Dr. Foucher.

Along with taking a pregnancy test, there are other indicators that may tell that you could be pregnant.

“Usually, the biggest sign is a missed period, but some people don't have regular periods, so they are unsure. Other symptoms include breast tenderness and nausea,” said Dr. Foucher.

Dr. Foucher also states there are also some foods, activities, and other substances that should be avoided during pregnancy to keep you and your baby safe and healthy. These include unpasteurized dairy, raw or uncooked food like lunch meat, and tobacco, alcohol, and illicit substances. Pregnant women should also avoid hot tubs, saunas, and rollercoasters.

“Everyone has a different journey, so stay positive and remember to contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns,” said Foucher.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Foucher, click here.

To learn more about the Birthplace at McLaren Greater Lansing’s new hospital, click here

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