You've deliberated long and hard with your spouse and it's time: You're ready to start a family! Time to make the baby. Whee! For most people this is the easy part, right? Just stop using birth control and just -- well, you know what to do. BUT WAIT! Don't throw those birth control pills away quite yet.
There's a few things every couple should do before they try to conceive. (Or, for that matter, if you're sexually active -- Tequlia Sue and Fertile Myrtle.) You'll want to make sure you're in good health before you start that baby making. Here's a few things you should put on your to-do list.
1. Take folic acid. If you're not already taking this supplement, start taking 400 micrograms now and keep taking it through your pregnancy. It can help prevent a certain kinds of birth defects. You can get folate from green leafy vegetables and enriched grains, too.
2. Get a full preconception checkup. Tell your doctor you'd like to start trying to have a baby. Here's a handy checklist of things you should bring up on this visit.
3. Consider safety part of health. Does your husband or boyfriend have a history of domestic abuse? Don't think it'll stop when the baby comes. Address this now, before you bring an innocent child into the picture. Babies don't "fix" or "cure" abuse.
4. Kick bad habits. Any additions, drug abuse, drinking problems, smoking, etc. get the help you need to quit NOW.
5. Get in the best shape you've ever been in. Consider this training for an athletic event. You need your body to be at its healthiest, so be eating right, exercising, and getting enough rest now.
6. Look at your family health history. This includes both sides. Are there health issues or conditions you could be passing on to your future children? Talk this over with your doctor.
What other health-related issues should couples address before conceiving?
Image via On The White Line/Flickr