A child’s health truly begins even before conception. If a woman is considering having children, it is recommended that she begin making the lifestyle changes needed to ensure she is healthy before conception. This includes eating healthy, exercising on a regular basis, quitting alcohol, being in a healthy weight range, and even taking a prenatal vitamin during the time she is actively attempting to conceive. Continuing into the very early stages of pregnancy, it is important to make sure the mother is taking the utmost care of herself so that her child has the best possible development in the critical stages of formation.
Expectant mothers should also take the time to receive prenatal care from a doctor or OB/GYN. Studies show that women who receive prenatal care overall tend to have healthier pregnancies, healthier labor and deliveries, and healthier babies.
Additionally, many mental health problems have a genetic component to them. This means if Mom or Dad has a history with a problem such a depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or addiction, this heightens the baby’s chance of also dealing with these problems later in life. By understanding the family and genetic history, parents can prepare well in advance to tackle these problems head-on and prevent crisis in the future.
Biophysical: Mother is eating healthy, cutting out junk food, abstaining from drug and alcohol use, abstaining from smoking any substances, abstaining from eating unapproved foods (such as seafood high in mercury or raw meats), drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly (as approved by doctor), receiving prenatal care, taking prenatal vitamins.
Psychological: Mother is taking steps to de-stress, is speaking with a professional if struggling with mental health problems, is excited about the future for baby.
Social: Mother has a support system to help during pregnancy and also with raising a child (such as a close knit family or supportive friends), Mother has an understanding job or is comfortable being a stay-at-home mom, child’s Father is actively involved in a positive way throughout the pregnancy.
Spiritual: Mother is excited (albeit with occasional nerves) about the prospect of having a child.
Infancy (ages 0 – 3)