For some time now, you’ve been wanting to become a mother, you’ve talked about it with your partner and you think it’s time to try. What can you do to prepare yourself? “Although it is always a good idea to take care of your health and fertility to get to the appointment in the best physical condition, when you decide to have a child it becomes even more important to correct the shooting on different aspects of your life,” says Rossana Sarli, gynecologist in Genoa. From diet to lifestyle and examinations, the Ministry of Health reminds aspiring parents in the “Think about it first” portal of the important steps they need to take if they want to conceive a healthy baby in the desired time.
Don’t wait too long
First of all, postponing this decision for too long can be risky. Experts remember that children are not born at the age of 40 and that, if you want to become a parent, you should start looking for them at the age of 25-30-32. Planning the pregnancy a little earlier then allows you to experience it more peacefully, to the benefit of the future child.
In a country where the percentage of children per woman is around 1.39 and where there is a widespread tendency to postpone the arrival of the baby, experts remember that after the age of 35 fertility falls by 10% every year and that at this age the children should have already done so. From the moment you decide to have a child, 70% of couples take on average six months to start the pregnancy. A 15% then manages to conceive within the next year.
There is another 15%, finally, who suffers from problems of infertility due in half of the cases to the woman and in the other half to the man. For these people it is even more important to be aware of the problem in time so that they can possibly resort to assisted reproduction techniques.
Try to achieve the right weight shape
Arriving at the time of conception with a normal weight is important to reduce the risk of diseases typical of pregnancy. “Overweight is associated with a higher risk of preeclampsia (starting with a rise in blood pressure, increased protein in the urine and excess fluid in the subcutaneous) and gestational diabetes. Underweight at premature birth and low birth weight. The underweight, moreover, is a cause of hormonal deficiency that can make it more difficult to conceive,” explains Rossana Sarli. “The ways to achieve the right weight form in view of any pregnancy are healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
Follow the Mediterranean diet
Lots of fruit and vegetables, cereals and legumes, fish, little sugar and few fatty foods: the Mediterranean diet is ideal if you are looking for a child because it increases the possibility of conceiving quickly and give birth to a healthy baby. “A controlled diet rich in antioxidants, in particular, improves the quality of spermatozoa and oocytes and helps to protect fertility. It is better to choose foods that do not involve excessive use of pesticides or additives in the production phase and that are well-preserved. The advice, in short, is to focus on the quality of the food,” says Rossana Sarli.
Banish smoke and alcohol
Excess alcohol, smoke and other potentially harmful substances should be avoided before pregnancy. In addition to being dangerous for the future child, they undermine fertility. Women who smoke take longer on average to conceive. The same applies to those who consume alcohol in excessive quantities. Too much alcohol interferes with the maturation of the follicles and harms the ovarian reserve. In other words, if you plan to become pregnant, it is best to ban these substances altogether, bearing in mind that there is no safety “threshold” and that it has been proven that they have harmful effects on the foetus.
You take folic acid
Another simple action if you plan to become pregnant is to take 0.4 mg of folic acid daily. Supplementation reduces the risk of neural tube malformations (spina bifida and anencephaly) by 50% and is strongly recommended by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization from one month before conception until the third month of pregnancy. This vitamin continues to be important afterwards because it contributes to the growth of maternal tissues (placenta and uterus) during the waiting period. “It can be taken for a long time and without any problems. If the child is too late to arrive, however, after six months-a year of attempts, it is better to ask your doctor for advice on the opportunity to continue the supplementation as well as to know how to move, “says Rossana Sarli.
Stay away from pesticides
Pesticides and other chemicals can be harmful to the unborn child. If you are looking for a child and work closely with these substances talk to your doctor and your manager and take the right precautions. Environmental pollution can also affect fertility in general. An alarming fact is the increase in male infertility, which is also affected by so-called endocrine disruptors: substances dispersed in the environment (such as softeners, detergents, preservatives, disinfectants) with a weak estrogenic action that, put together, negatively affect the ability to conceive.
Make the necessary vaccinations
Some diseases, if taken during pregnancy, can be dangerous for the fetus. If you want a child, therefore, it may be worthwhile to make sure you are immune to it and possibly do vaccinations. “Rubella and hepatitis B in particular, but also chickenpox and whooping cough, are diseases that can affect the fetus. To prevent them, there are effective vaccines that can be administered before the start of pregnancy. Recently there has been much talk of whooping cough, an infection that is harmless for adults but potentially dangerous (and sometimes fatal) for newborns. Today, the decline in vaccine coverage allows Bordetella pertussis, the responsible bacterium, to circulate more than in the past, which is why many newborns are hospitalized for contracting the infection before they can perform the vaccine during the third month. The best way to protect them is to immunize those around them. “If you plan to become pregnant, therefore, you should check the level of antibodies and assess the possibility of having a booster vaccine,” says Sarli.
Propose a couple check-up
A couple check-up can be very useful for aspiring parents. In addition to the toxo test, to understand if the woman is immune to toxoplasmosis (if it is not, it will be necessary to follow some hygienic and dietary guidelines during pregnancy, such as avoiding sausages or raw meat and consume vegetables only if washed well), you can also perform other controls, such as those that exclude the possibility of having contracted syphilis, HIV or being carriers of chlamydia infection. Chlamydia (like gonorrhoea) is a sexually transmitted disease, often asymptomatic and increasingly widespread, which can lead to infertility.
Once identified, there are effective therapies to weaken it, so it would be important to undergo regular checkups during youth and report to the doctor any symptoms related to vaginal infections. “Generally, the swab is made to detect chlamydia infection when the couple struggles to conceive a child, to investigate the causes of infertility,” explains gynecologist Rossana Sarli. Finally, it is important to inform the doctor about chronic diseases (such as diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension, asthma, rheumatic or thyroid diseases) and any miscarriages or previous premature births. Finally, there should be no cases of thalassaemia, cystic fibrosis or other genetic diseases in the family.