Your Reproductive Life Plan:
A reproductive life plan is taking into consideration your priorities, goals, values, and personal health when planning whether or not to have children and when might be the right time for you.
You have the control over your own reproductive life plan and to make decisions about:
- Having children or not having children
- When to have a child
- How you plan to have children
“If you don't have a plan to prevent pregnancy, you have a plan to get pregnant” (Toronto Public Health)
What's Your Plan?
With approximately 50% of all Canadian pregnancies being unplanned, planning before having a baby can help ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby. Preconception health refers to the health of all individuals during their reproductive years and is important to consider regardless of your gender or sexual orientation (OPHA, 2014).
There are many choices that you can make to take control over your health & reproductive plan, regardless of whether you plan to have children or not. Making these positive choices will improve your health and will help your chances of having a healthy baby if you choose to.
The following provides you with information you may want to consider depending on where you are in your current Reproductive Life Plan.
What's Your Plan if…
You're Ready to Have a Baby?
- Eat healthy and stay active. Choosing healthy eating options and regular physical activity can help ensure your body is ready to have a healthy pregnancy.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs. It is best to stop drinking alcohol, smoking and using drugs before getting pregnant because these substances can effect a woman's ability to get pregnant and can also effect the health of a man's sperm.
- Limit your exposure to harmful environmental substances. Exposure to environmental hazards can impact your ability to get pregnant and can sometimes cause health issues during pregnancy for mother and baby. Limit your exposure to harmful chemicals such as second-hand smoke, scented hygiene products, some cleaning products, and aerosol sprays.
- Woman should continue to take a daily multivitamin with folic acid. This will help to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
- Both partners should visit your health care provider for a complete medical check-up. Be sure to inform your healthcare provider that you are planning a pregnancy. Using a preconception healthcare visit checklist can help you when speaking with your healthcare provider. Your medical check-up may include:
- Completing a reproductive and family health history screening to identify any possible risk of genetic disorders.
- Updating your immunizations
- Discussing any medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter, prescription and herbal medications.
- Getting tested and/or treated for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If left untreated, STIs can put your baby and your own health at risk.
- Treating and/or managing any current medical conditions as they could get worse during pregnancy.
- Talk to family, friends, and your healthcare provider for support. At times everyone can experience worries, sadness, stress and sometimes anxiety. When these feelings don't go away you may find that they begin to interfere with your daily life. It is important to speak with your partner, family, friends or health care provider about your feelings so that they don't have a negative effect on your health and well-being. If you or your partner have a history of depression, talk to your health care provider before pregnancy so you can decrease your risk of depression during pregnancy and after the birth of the baby.
- Getting ready to become a parent. This may include thinking about how you will transition into becoming a parent and how you plan on feeding your baby.