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Before becoming pregnant, it is important to develop healthy habits. Preparing your body for pregnancy will improve your chances of having a successful outcome; conceiving more easily, and delivering a healthy baby. The following guide will help you take affirmative action in the areas that you have power over. These areas apply to mom and dad. Half of a baby's genes come from dad. He must be a partner in caring for his health.

Avoid Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
"When considering conception, or during pregnancy be aware of risks from exposures to environmental toxins", explains Ward Sullivan, of Healthy Homes Healthy Families. "From the time before birth until puberty, we expose children to multiple chemicals. Since World War II, we have developed more than 80,000 chemicals for use in cleaners, pesticides, plastics, personal care products, industrial products and other conveniences. We know very little about the effect of these chemicals on a fetus or on a child's development. Researchers are finding that some chemicals can cause damage to a child's developing brain, while others may cause cancer or mimic or block hormones, and result in birth defects or miscarriages. Simply by switching to safer more natural brands, and away from mainstream chemical based products, you may well be giving your child a benefit to last a lifetime."

Abstain from Caffeine
Research has shown that more than 300 mg., which is equivalent to three cups per day of coffee, may contribute to lower birth weights and birth defects including cleft palate. Caffeine increases your heart rate, which affects your developing baby. Drinking coffee also causes the depletion of water and calcium, essential components of a healthy pregnancy.

Abstain from Alcohol and Smoking
Drinking alcohol will harm a developing baby. Alcohol in your blood, quickly reaches your developing baby, by crossing your placenta. It is well known that alcohol, in any amount, should not be consumed during or prior to pregnancy. Too much is unknown about the subject and the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, FAS is too great! Children born with FAS suffer from behavioral and developmental challenges.

Eat a well-balanced diet at all times. Such a diet, will include a variety of colours from all of the basic food groups. Drink numerous glasses of water each day.

Folic Acid
Folic acid is of utmost importance before and during pregnancy. Folic acid will prevent serious neural tube defects, specifically, spina bifida. Folic acid may be found in artichokes, whole grains and leafy vegetables.

Predicting Ovulation
Fertility charting allows you to chart and predict ovulation and is based on three methods; body temperature, cervical mucus and calendar patterns.

Your body temperature increases upon the onset of ovulation, which creates a more fertile environment for the fertilized egg. Your temperature remains higher until the beginning of your next cycle. Recording your body temperature will help you predict ovulation. A high body temperature indicates ovulation.

Another method for determining the onset of ovulation is through the cervical mucous test. This test is based on an examination of cervical mucous secretions. During ovulation, when the chance of pregnancy occurring is greatest, the mucous resembles egg whites. It is thin, clear and quite abundant in quantity. When stretched between two fingers, it will produce a stretch of at least 3 centimetres, before the thin strand will break. Your body is also kindest to sperm during this most fertile time, allowing them to have a significantly longer survival time.

A woman can also predict ovulation by looking at her menstrual history, only if her cycle is regular. Fourteen days after ovulation, marks the first day of her period. A woman with a 28 day cycle, can expect to ovulate on day 14. (28-14=14)

Simple changes in dad's way of life will increase his chances of a higher sperm count. Heating up in hot tubs and saunas is not a good idea. Wearing tight jeans is not as good, for producing high numbers of sperm, as wearing loose and cool pants or slacks.

Dad's dedication serves as an indicator of the type of support that he will provide mom with, after baby is born. Now is a good time to show your greatest level of support for your wife and begin to make the sacrifices that you will continue to make for the rest of your life.

Mom, now that you are pregnant you will need to consider your pre-natal health.

Establish a regular exercise routine. Congratulations for planning to have a healthy pregnancy!

Cord Blood Banking
Almost everyone agrees that it is better to save umbilical cord blood than to discard it, as medical waste. Umbilical cord blood contains primitive blood stem cells. They can be transplanted to regenerate a patient's immune system. These cells can be removed from the umbilical cord without harm to mother or baby and can grow a complete immune system of blood cells.

Pre-natal Check-ups
Regular visits to your doctor of choice will ensure a healthy pregnancy and a properly developing baby.

Pre-natal Class
Attend pre-natal classes. These help mom to develop her confidence and dad learn how to be a great labour coach.

Lactation Consultant
Find a lactation consultant that will be able to help you after your baby is born.

Caring for Mom and Baby with Medical Compression Stockings
Ask your doctor what you can do to protect yourself from developing pregnancy-related varicose veins. Wearing medical compression stockings during pregnancy, will help your legs deal with your increased blood volume and will counteract the damaging effects that hormonal changes have on your legs. The good news is that the costs for medical compression stockings are covered under most group health insurance plans. La Vita Medical is the leader in the industry, with certified compression stocking fitters throughout the GTA, equipped to do compression stocking fitting house calls. 416 945 8315 or ms@lavita.ca

Caring for Mom and Baby with Quality Clothing Fashions
Thyme Maternity, winner of the 2005 Community Service Award, is the industry leader in maternity fashions. You can expect to be pleased with their high standards. In addition, you can expect to meet with their fashion experts at any Baby or Mother-To-Be Expo, (handing out coupons and information). They are dedicated to you.

Celebrating Baby with a Baby Shower or Party
Mothers, sisters, friends or co-workers may host a baby shower. When setting up a guest list, it is always, a good idea to confirm for omissions or oversights, with the expectant mother. If the guest has already given a baby gift, the invitation should clearly relieve the guest of gift buying obligation.

Although it is polite and acceptable to invite shower guests with a phone call or an e mail, it is preferred, to use a written invitation. A written note serves a few important functions. It makes life easier for the guest. She now has a piece of paper to mount on her reminder bulletin board and to take with her (the directions) to the actual shower. Most importantly, it lists gift registry information, making it easier to purchase a gift. A written notes also sets the tone of the shower.

Men and children may be invited to a shower. It is largely acceptable for the dad and his friends and family, to celebrate and bond in a separate area from the women, at the shower site.
The best time to give a shower is during the mother's last trimester. This party is commonly held in a home, at a hall or in a restaurant. It is not advisable to hold a 'welcoming shower' as it tends to be more stressful and difficult on mom. She needs to focus on adjusting to her new sleep schedule and her baby's needs. It also cannot be ignored that, a newborn baby should not be exposed to crowds of people, during its first few weeks of life. Being exposed to a virus carries unpleasant consequences for both mom and baby. In fact, there should be a hand washing routine in place for all baby visitors.

Caring for Baby
After your baby is born you will need to know how to care for your baby.
Read our next issue of Quality Of Life Omnimedia Parents & Kids Magazine for the most recent news about breast-feeding, choosing diapers, layette and baby gear essentials, saving money, tips for decorating your nursery and safety essentials.

Packing for Labour Day
Your insurance and hospital card are required hospital admission documents. Most women do not bring their bathrobe or night gown with them. They prefer to wear hospital attire, which will not require home washing. Why worry about taking home extra laundry, when it will make your life easier, if you don't have to?
Bring your most favourite relaxation tools with you! You may wish to bring snacks for the coach, a camera, video camera and film, tape or memory card and batteries. You will appreciate having easy to slip on shoes, to accommodate the expected mild swelling of your feet. You must bring your basic toiletries, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner. For the drive home bring a change of clothes, a nursing bra, breast pads and maternity underwear.

For your baby's drive home, you will need an infant car seat, a receiving blanket, baby nail clippers, diapers, baby undershirt and a baby sleeper outfit.

Life with Your Baby For additional details on the already mentioned topics and for information on life with your baby, family or paid help support systems, dealing with postpartum depression and birth announcements please read our next issue of Parents & Kids Magazine.

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