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The Fibromyalgic Pregnancy and Beyond - The 12 Month Pregnancy

The 12 Month Pregnancy 

So you’ve decided you want to have a baby?  Congratulations, you have taken the first step towards becoming a parent.  Your body is going to be your baby’s home for the duration of your pregnancy and you have recognised the need to make it the best you can offer to your unborn child.  As a midwife I am aware that many people put more effort into planning a holiday than they do into organising one of the most important events of their lives. Although everyone should view pregnancy as lasting at least 12 months; preconception care is especially important if you have medical problems.  The better prepared you are, the better you will cope with this major life change. 

The countdown begins here:

At least 12 months before you begin trying to conceive a baby, stop smoking and drink in moderation only.  Make an appointment to see your GP, so that you can tell him/her that you are planning to become pregnant.  Make a list of things to discuss with your GP which should include:

  1. Any prescribed medications you currently take and if they are suitable for pregnancy and breast feeding, (inform your GP if you are taking any recreational drugs as these will have an effect on your baby and the pregnancy).
  2. Discuss when to stop taking the oral contraceptive and which other contraception method you should use.
  3. When you should have your next cervical smear test.
  4. Are all your immunisations up to date?
  5. Do you need any Genetic screening such as Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle cell and Thalassaemia?
  6. Do you need any other screening for infectious diseases, or for illnesses such as diabetes?
  7. Is your weight within a healthy range to encourage conception and sustain a pregnancy?

Adopt a healthier lifestyle

Try to have a parenting partnership and encourage each other to adopt similarly healthy lifestyles at least 12 months before you begin trying to conceive your baby.

Exercise - Start or continue to exercise daily for as long as you can manage comfortably.  I strongly recommend gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming in a warm pool as a minimum; if you can manage more than this then do so.  Exercise helps your body do everything more efficiently.  When you exercise, your body processes medications more effectively (which can mean you may find that you need to take less!), digests food better (helping you on your way to maintaining a more healthy weight), your sleep patterns are more restorative (significantly lacking in FM sufferers), and your mood is elevated in comparison to when your body receives no exercise.

 Folic acidWhen you stop taking your oral contraceptive you should begin taking 400micrograms of folic acid (0.4mg) each day, even though you won’t be trying to conceive straight away.  It won’t do you any harm and it will give you time to make it into a habit.  Folic acid helps prevent some structural defects in babies, particularly ones of the brain and spinal cord; this is also known as neural tube defects.

You should also eat foods which are rich in folic acid such as green leafy vegetables, nuts (avoid peanuts during this period, pregnancy and until you have stopped breastfeeding), cooked dried beans, citrus fruits, avocado, raspberries, raw mushrooms and vegemite. It is also important to take a vitamin supplement which is suitable for pregnancy as certain vitamins are not.  If you drink herbal teas check they are safe during pregnancy and the same goes for any essential perfume oils you may use, such as rose and clary sage.

 Essential fatty acids- Increase your intake of these to help maximise fertility.  They are also good for the development of your baby’s nervous system and brain.  They can be found in foods which contain the oils Omega 3, 6 & 9. These are in numerous products today even certain brands of eggs and milk.

Protein-protein rich food is an essential part of our diet and can be found in foods such as eggs, meat, pulses, and grains such as quinoa. Eat no more than a palm sized amount of protein with each meal for a balanced diet.

Calcium- Helps strengthen bones and helps your body absorb vitamin D.  Calcium is found in foods such as cheese, yogurt, milk, ice cream, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, broccoli, tofu and tinned salmon or sardines.

Try to eat foods in a variety of colours with each meal to ensure that your diet is balanced.  For example, if you had free range meat, red, green and yellow roasted peppers (try coating them in pesto sauce before popping them under the grill), carrots and broccoli and some potatoes or rice, your meal will contain many vitamins and minerals which are vital for health.

 For men- Maximise sperm count and motility by eating regular portions of fish, eggs, mushrooms, oysters, pumpkin seeds and other zinc rich food. Smoking and alcohol have been found to reduce sperm counts and to increase the production of damaged sperm.

Odds and ends

Visit your dentist early on in your 12 month pregnancy to complete any dental work you may require and to gain advice about what changes pregnancy may cause to your teeth and gums. If you haven’t managed to quit smoking yet, you and your partner should do so at least 4 months before you begin trying to get pregnant as well as avoiding alcohol and any unnecessary drugs. Finally and perhaps most important of all, enjoy and cherish the company of your partner during this exciting time in your lives.

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