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What To Expect Before You're Expecting

Today's world is all about planning ahead. Even when it comes to having children, we've left spontaneity behind in favor of finding the best possible timing. But the best possible timing should also be the best for us! Here is everything you should know before you start trying for a baby

What To Expect Before You're Expecting
In the movies, mostly the ones from Hollywood, there's a couple. They've been married for about a year, they're both busy with their careers, and one day they're walking in the street and they see a baby. After playing with it for a few minutes, they exchange that certain look and he asks hesitantly, “Well? Are we going to try for one?” and she replies, looking frightened and excited at the same time, “I guess we could...” and then they fall into each others arms and go home to make a baby.
In real life, it seldom works that way. The final decision on the question “when is the best time to try to get pregnant” takes weeks and months of deliberation. We play around with calendars and complicated math – we wouldn't like the baby to be born in August (because all the other kids would be on vacation and no-one would come to the birthday party) and it's probably best not to have one in winter, either (a tiny baby in winter? Isn't that dangerous?), and June is bad because of University finals, and in May we would miss out on having summer vacation as an extended maternity leave.
Naturally, we won't be going into your private considerations here, because each couple decides for themselves what is best for them. But we're here to tell you about the things you are recommended to do before getting pregnant.
If you don't have an Ob-Gyn – this is the time to find one
Your gynecologist will be at your side throughout your pregnancy. He will be there for the morning sickness, the varicose veins, the aches and pains. He will be the calm, reassuring voice, and also the one telling you what you should do, when, and how. He's the doctor that will know you both on the outside and on the inside, literally. That is why it's vital to find a doctor you're comfortable with, someone you can trust and believe.
Make an appointment for your Ob-Gyn
Finding a doctor is not enough. Now you need to make an appointment. Let him in on your secret - he will be happy for you! Your gynecologist will recommend some routine tests like a PAP smear and a breast examination, document your full medical history, and make sure everything is in good order. He will also give you a prescription for Folic Acid.
Start taking Folic Acid
Folic Acid is a B9 vitamin from the B group vitamins, which is vital for normal development of the brain and other systems in your fetus, and is especially important for preventing neural canal defects. Since all these organs start developing at a very early stage of pregnancy, it is recommended to start taking Folic Acid at least 3 months before you start trying for a baby. Folic Acid is also found in food, especially leafy vegetables such as spinach, mangold, broccoli, cabbage, and parsley, as well as red peppers, nuts, avocado, cereals and whole-grain bread fortified with Folic Acid, and organ meats.

Perform genetic testing
Every cell in our bodies contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, which hold our entire genetic material. Each parent passes on to their child one chromosome from each pair. Among the genetic information determining eye color, body shape, intelligence, and personality, there is also information determining hereditary diseases. You may carry a disease in your genes, even a severe one, without suffering from it, and in many cases, carriers are completely unaware of the genes they carry before going through comprehensive genetic screening.
That is the reason genetic counseling is recommended. The counselor will go over your family histories, ask questions about your ethnic background, and recommend a certain set of genetic tests. Genetic screening uses a regular blood sample from one of the parents. If one parent is found to be a carrier for a certain disease, the other parent will also be tested for it. If they are both found to be carriers, the recommendation will be to undergo diagnostic tests for the disease at an early stage of pregnancy. Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can be performed as early as week 10 -11, and amniocentesis (AFT) can also be performed at a later stage, to make sure the fetus is developing normally.
Results for genetic testing arrive within 3 weeks at the earliest, so it is recommended to start the process before becoming pregnant, or as early as possible if you already are. You only need to be screened once for each disease, so when it's time for your next pregnancy there's no need to repeat the tests – just to check if there are new tests available.
Most tests require payment, and are subsidized by Leumit Silver and Leumit Gold. Testing for Ty-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis, and Familial Dysautonomia is funded by the government for those eligible.
Quit smoking
Both of you. Smoking is harmful for your fetus. It is harmful when the mother herself smokes, and harmful when someone around her is smoking. A smoking mother-to-be increases the chances for low weight at birth and increases the risk of miscarriage, birth defects, premature delivery, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. A smoking father-to-be increases the risk of miscarriage, and damages sperm quality. Smoking is also detrimental to conception.
Start eating right
Being either overweight or underweight can make conception harder, and may also cause difficulties and complications during pregnancy. If you are overweight or underweight, it is recommended to seek dietary counseling before becoming pregnant. You will be given guidance regarding suitable foods and recommended menus in order to conceive at a weight closer to optimum, and your weight gain during during pregnancy will be monitored.
It's time to start exercising!
Pregnancy is a shock to your system. Your body undergoes a rapid weight-gain, an increase in blood volume, and an increase in overall fluid volume. One of the certain ways of softening the blow is engaging in moderate physical exercise. It is recommended to enter a routine of moderate exercise such as walking or swimming, even before pregnancy. After conceiving you can continue with your routine, taking the necessary precautions and following to your doctor's instructions.
Request blood tests and vaccinations
Before you become pregnant, it is important to take a blood test for toxoplasmosis and CMV antibodies. These two diseases are widespread and most people have, at some point in their lives, encountered them and developed antibodies. If you have no antibodies for toxoplasmosis, you should avoid contact with cat feces (allow someone else to clean the litter box) and avoid handling or eating raw meat. CMV, on the other hand, is passed through bodily fluids (saliva, urine, feces, blood, tears, mucus, etc.). The symptoms are similar to a slight flu, and the recommendation for pregnant women is to take extra care when exposed to someone who is sick. This includes frequent hand washing, disinfecting, airing the room, and staying away if possible. Pregnant women who work with children are requested to use disposable gloves when changing diapers and disinfect their hands frequently.
It is also recommended to test for antibodies against measles, German measles, and chicken pox. Most adult Israeli women were vaccinated in childhood against measles, mumps, and German measles. However, the vaccine against chicken pox was added to the routine vaccination schedule only in 2008, which means that most adult women did not receive it. The Ministry of Health recommends that any woman who did not contract chicken pox, or did not receive 2 doses of the vaccine, should be vaccinated against it. It is further recommended to wait one month after being vaccinated, before becoming pregnant.
Stop taking birth control pills
In the past, it was believed that the body needs a recovery period from birth control pills before being able to conceive a baby. Today we know that is not true, and pregnancy is possible as soon as the pills are stopped. However, it is important to remember that stopping taking the Pill could disrupt your monthly period,and it may take some time till it is regular again, and this might make it harder to become pregnant.
A good time to see the dentist
Hormonal changes during pregnancy increase the risk of gum disease, and this may pose danger to your fetus and affect its development. It is recommended to undergo dental treatment and descaling before pregnancy, and take care of any outstanding dental problems. Naturally, it is just as important not to neglect dental and gum problems during pregnancy.
Reduce your caffeine intake
We're not asking you to give up coffee altogether, but you should be aware that caffeine (present in coffee, tea, various soft drinks, chocolate, and more) definitely has an effect on fetal development. Some studies have shown that caffeine makes it harder to conceive, and others demonstrated a connection between over-consumption of caffeine and increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects. How much is not too much? The recommendation is for no more than two cups of caffeine drinks a day.
Consult your physician about prescription drugs
If you take prescription drugs on a regular basis, it is recommended that you consult your GP about your medication and its foreseen effect on your pregnancy. Some medication is banned in pregnancy, and may need to be replaced with safer drugs.

Now, all that's left for you is to start trying, and enjoy the attempts! Good luck!