Thursday, March 18, 2010

Preparing your body for conception/pregnancy and motherhood

The beauty of planning to have a donor insemination is that you can take the time to prepare your body and your life for a baby. The first thing I did was visit my doctor and discuss timelines for when I wanted to get pregnant and what I needed to do to prepare my body for conception/pregnancy. As I mentioned in an earlier posting, my doctor recommended that I have the Hep A/B vaccine. This required 6 months (1st, 2nd and 6th month). At that point I looked at April as my conception date.

Once I prepared my head for the idea of choosing single motherhood, I was aware of some of the obvious preparation for a healthy pregnancy (e.g., no alcohol, no smoking, eat healthy, etc.), but not everything. I didn't know how important it is to prepare your body for conception. Many people I know didn't have time to prepare their bodies, they either woke up pregnant or right after they made the decision to "try" before they could say "prepare" they were pregnant. When you are choosing motherhood as a single woman (using donor insemination), you have time to prepare.

The first thing I did was stop taking birth control, it's recommended that you stop taking it at least one month before you are planning to conceive. I took birth control for 18 years without a break, stopping it was easy, but experiencing a regular menstrual cycle for the first time as an adult was painful. I have heard female friends complain about having to stay in bed with menstrual pains and I thought to myself, "drama queens" - by my second month off birth control I certainly could out "Queen" any of them. It took my body three months to get use to my monthly "visitor from hell". If you are using an IUD a little more advance planning is needed, you need to have it removed.

"Smoking is one of the most damaging things you can do as far as the health of your baby is concerned and it's a major cause of avoidable health problems. Risks linked to smoking include miscarriage and stillborn, damage to placenta, a low birth-weight baby who fails to thrive, and higher risk of fetal abnormalities. Smoking is one cause of low sperm count, and a man who smokes around a pregnant woman may damage the unborn baby's health through passive smoking. And the problems continue. When tested at five, seven, eleven years old, children of heavy smokers were found to suffer from impaired growth and learning difficulties."(Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009) Lucky for me I am not a smoker, however I will make sure not to expose myself and my unborn baby to second hand smoke.

Alcohol "is a poison that can damage the sperm and egg before conception, as well as the developing embryo. The main risk to an unborn baby are developmental delay, growth deficiencies, and damage to the brain and nervous system - well documented as fetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol can also cause stillbirth. Research suggests that the effect of alcohol on pregnant women varies: some are more affected than others. But one thing is certain: if you don't drink alcohol during your pregnancy you'll avoid any problems" (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009) directly caused by alcohol. This is one habit I may struggle with before I'm pregnant. I decided to stop drinking to cleanse my body for conception, I have drank a few times since I said "no more". I know I won't drink when I am pregnant, but I am not sure how much I will miss it. I've heard friends discuss this and I've read material on women mourning the loss of alcohol. I may feel a little awkward making this change in my life, but being pregnant and providing my unborn baby with the best life from conception is part of my plan. I am also shifting from thinking of my needs and wants to thinking of my unborn baby's needs (more on this subject later).

Everyone knows that in life diet and exercise are very important to achieve good health and live the best life possible. Your health is crucial for your your baby's health. "Eating a sensible balanced diet that's low in animal fat and includes at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day. It's important to take daily folic acid supplements in addition to eating a diet rich in nutrients because it's known to lower the risk of your baby suffering from any neural tube defects, such as spina bifida." (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009) A friend of mine acknowledged her support for my plan by buying me folic acid supplements and explained how important it was for me to take them. You should start taking prenatal vitamins with at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily three months before you conceive. Also include foods in your diet with are high in folic acid such as; "black-eyed bean, brussel sprouts, beef extract, yeast extract, cooked kidney beans, kale, spinach, whole-grain bread, spring greens, broccoli, liver, lima beans, mushrooms, nuts (particularly walnuts), peas, and green beans." (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009) I eat most of these foods daily, so that doesn't concern me, but the frequent fast food restaurants I visit needs to change. It's never been good for me, but now that I am thinking of my unborn baby, somehow that makes me choose Subway over McDonald's. Also I need to include regular exercise in my life again. "Pregnancy puts a strain on your body, so the more fit you are beforehand, the better you'll cope." (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009)

I also recommend owning/borrowing a book which helps you understand what you're body is going through from conception to birth. I have learned a lot from Dr. Miriam Stoppard's book "Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth " published in 2009, I like that when I have a question I can refer to her book and find an answer. I chose this book after searching everywhere in Chapters/Indigo in all of Toronto for a book on donor insemination. After reading many books I found a section on my choice in this book only. My reason for starting this BLOG was to provide a true experience of a single woman choosing motherhood. I hope that women who are ready and wanting to be a mother but are not in a relationship will look at this alternative method as an option and feel proud and secure in her seeking information.

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