Navigating pregnancy in the USA if you are from India or a foreign country
Are you for India or a foreign country, and pregnant in the USA?
If you are pregnant, or planning to be, congratulations on your decision to embark on one of the tumultuous journeys of life – full of love and surprises and ambiguity. Becoming pregnant in a new country adds a layer of complexity. There are many more questions. There are sometimes vague answers. So we thought it would be a good idea to put together a series of articles with information we found useful, our experiences and our ‘I wish we had known that’s’.
This kit was prepared by moms who have been down this road – navigating a pregnancy or aspects of in the US. We are not experts. These are our amateur opinions based on our own experiences of having a baby here with our decidedly Indian backgrounds and culture. Please add in your experiences so that we can make it a rich, to go resource for moms. What were your questions? What were your ahas? We would love to know. You can add your comments or write your own part by registering here.
Planning for Pregnancy in the US if you are from India or a foreign country
Planning to share your body with a new human being? Congrats on your decision. It’s a big task.
Don’t go out and buy ovulation calculators and such gear quite yet. Your OB may help you time your cycle. One of ours told us that you need to shoot for the week right around ovulation (before and after). You can also start a Basal Body Temperature chart with a regular digital thermometer (no need to spend on the basal body thermometer yet). Take your temperature every morning before getting out of bed or doing any activity. When it spikes, it’s probably baby making time. But go with your doctor as we are amateurs here!
Give yourself a year. Begin with that in mind, so that you don’t stress our before that. This is not something you can really force, so don’t stress out on the delay or the lack of it. You may become pregnant in a day or in a year. Either way, it’s best if you don’t stress out.
Meanwhile, here are some things we found useful and you can think of. In short,
· Get into shape and start eating healthy.
· Visit OB/Gyn
· Start folic acid supplements
· Eat (and not eat) like you are pregnant
· Look into insurance coverage, disability etc.
· Plan finances and moves
Get into Shape: It may seem counter intuitive – why slim down and exercise only to lose it all under layers of pregnancy fat – but it’s very important. One of us found that Yoga helped get her body ready for all the aches and stretches and weight pregnancy brings. It’s true that getting in shape now will help your pregnancy and post partum return to fitness. Ideally move to some light exercise thrice a week. Something you can do when you are pregnant. You doctor will probably encourage you to continue some exercise anyway.
Start Eating Healthy: Your body is now going to be your baby’s home. So tune up the environment. Eat a balanced, healthy diet high in vitamins. In general, food in America often has a lot of preservatives and chemicals. So tune down the pesticides and chemicals and move to fresh and organic foods where you can.
Eat or not eat like you are pregnant: At least as far as food choices are concerned, since you will probably already be pregnant for two weeks before you find out. Start avoiding Blue cheese, unpasteurized soft cheeses, sushi and the like. You can find a list of foods to avoid when pregnant here. You can also ask your doctor. India or your culture has its own lists of food to avoid. Such as no Papaya and pineapple for the first trimester of pregnancy. Make your call.
Visit your OB Gyn: One of us did not even have an OB Gyn in the US before becoming pregnant. But ideally, you should find one and visit him or her to get a complete checkup. Mention your intentions clearly and ask for advice. It’s a good idea to speak up to doctors as far as questions or concerns, and a good time to start is now. For more information on finding an OB Gyn click here.
Start Folic Acid or Prenatal Supplements: These are available over the counter and goes with our general theme of getting the body ready.
Look into Disability and Health Insurance: In the US, short term disability insurance pays you a percentage of your salary during maternity leave. If you are on bed rest or the leave extends, long term disability insurance kicks in. This is a significant chunk of money, especially if your company does not have other maternity benefits. So make sure you are enrolled. As one of us found out to our dismay, pregnancy is not considered a ‘life changing event’ by health insurance in USA, so you cannot enroll unless its open enrolment. Also, you have to enroll now, as once you are pregnant, it is a pre-existing condition and you cannot enroll even during open enrolment. Understand your health insurance and benefits so that you can plan financially.
Plan your moves and finances: Babies cost money and take up a lot of space in the US, maybe more so than in India. If you are planning to move to a bigger space, it may make sense to get the rigors of moving and house hunting over now before first trimester blues hit. Also, budget for baby as needs such as diapers, clothes, furniture, bottles and gear, formula all add up.
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