As per a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report, out of the world’s 1.21 cr unplanned pregnancies, 1 in 7 occurs in India. The same report indicated that unintended pregnancies were associated mainly with lower maternal utilization, poorer infant and maternal health outcomes, etc. This clearly means that a lot of women in India get pregnant without really being ready for it. Hence, maternity planning is important to ensure the healthy development of the child. If you are planning to get pregnant, taking certain steps can help safeguard you and the baby both from certain health risks. Read on to know all about pregnancy planning.
What is pregnancy planning?
Pregnancy planning refers to thinking about what it means to have a baby and taking the required steps to ensure the healthy delivery of the baby. Women who plan their pregnancy are likely to deliver a healthy child and get the required prenatal care before getting pregnant.
Pregnancy planning usually involves the following:
Talking to your partner and knowing their thoughts on getting pregnant. Discussing genetics, nutrition, weight gain, vitamins, etc. Staying away from consuming alcohol and certain medications.
Scheduling sexual intercourse during the most fertile days of the month ie the time when the woman is ovulating.
It may also involve consulting a fertility specialist if a couple is trying to get pregnant for over 6 months-1 years and are unsuccessful despite having sexual intercourse on a regular basis.
Women may not realize that they are pregnant until specific pregnancy symptoms start to develop. Hence, it is important to stay away from harmful substances that may impact the developing fetus.
How is planning pregnancy important?
Deciding to have a baby is one of the most important choices that a woman can make. While talking to your doctor, friends and family always help, planning pregnancy is important to ensure the baby is born healthy and you are also in a healthy state of mind physically and mentally.
Here’s why it is important to plan pregnancy:
- Find out how pregnancy can impact you physically and mentally
- Get information about the medications you are required to take when pregnant
- Decide which doctor/maternity unit to consult
- Consider the support you would need after birth
- Consider if you would like to continue working after the birth
- Make sure you don’t get any health problems
- Check if you or your partner have any family history of genetic diseases. If yes, it is best to undergo genetic counselling
- Women planning pregnancy should abstain from smoking and alcohol completely
- Your spouse should also stop consuming tobacco, alcohol, drugs or consuming an unhealthy diet
Different stages of planning
When planning pregnancy, it is important to understand that it consists of three phases: prenatal care, pregnancy care and postpartum care. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, taking good care at all stages is imperative.
Prenatal care: Prenatal care helps in increasing the chances of a healthy and safe delivery. Regular visits to the doctor can help you monitor pregnancy and identify the problems or complications in case they become serious.
Prenatal care ideally starts at least three months before you are trying to conceive. This may include:
- Consuming folic acid
- Quitting smoking and drinking
- Avoid taking dietary supplements, over-the-counter medicines, etc.
Once you conceive, regular doctor visits become a must to ensure the baby is developing properly and there are no chances of miscarriage or stillbirth.
- You will have to visit the doctor every month during the first 6 months of the pregnancy
- Visit every two weeks in the seventh and eighth month
- Every week during your ninth month
The above visits may include a series of tests, ultrasound, checking the baby’s heart rate, and growth rate, measuring baby weight, etc. In the last few months, the doctor may also call you regularly to check on the baby’s position and notice any changes in your body.
The doctor may also ask you to take classes for:
- Pregnancy yoga
- Discuss what you should expect when you are pregnant
- Discuss bodily changes
- Basic baby-caring skills
While most of your focus when planning for a child would be on healthy delivery after delivery care is also equally crucial. As a new mom, you and your body may go through a lot of changes physical and emotional. This period starts right after the baby is born and lasts for 6-8 weeks. This period usually involves getting enough rest, sound sleep, the right nutrition and vaginal care.
Here are a few things to keep in mind during postpartum care:
- Sleep when the baby sleeps
- Keep the baby’s bed near yours to make night feeding easier
- Avoid high-fat snacks
- Eat low-fat foods providing you with the right mix of proteins, and minerals, like fruits, vegetables, etc.
New mothers may experience the following and hence it is important to practice good vaginal care:
- Urination problems like pain or frequent urge to urinate
- Discharge including blood clots
- Vaginal soreness in case of tear during pregnancy
- Contractions during the first few days after delivery
Maternity benefits that mom-to-be needs
Given below are a few of the maternity benefits that every organization should provide to moms to be
Leaves: Women in India are entitled to get maternity leave up to 26 weeks out of which 8 weeks can be claimed before the delivery due date. The Maternity Benefit Act, of 1961 also provides 12 weeks of leave to adoptive mothers.
Income option: If you have worked for 80 days in an organization then you are eligible to receive paid maternity leave in addition to a maternity bonus of Rs. 3500.
Work-from-home option: The 2017 Amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act also makes women employees eligible to work from home after the expiry of 26 weeks of paid maternity leave. However, this can be opted for in consultation with the employer and the nature of the work.
Creche facility: It is mandatory for every organization to offer a creche facility to employees in case the number of employees employed is more than 50.
Onsurity benefits for moms to be
Onsurity in association with Newmi has designed an exclusive maternity package to provide pregnancy care to expectant mothers. The package will guide a woman all through different stages of pregnancy including pregnancy planning, pregnancy and post-pregnancy care. Along with this, moms-to-be also get access to a community of expectant mothers, ambulance on-demand service, fetal movement tracker, etc. The package also offers discounts on treatment, stem cell banking services, offers on pregnancy kits, etc.