Having a baby is slipping down our priority list: we’re now waiting much longer than our parents’ generation to start a family.
In Hong Kong, the average age for marriage is 29, with 30% of couples waiting more than three years to procreate.
Whether it’s because we’re taking more time to build our careers (and afford bigger apartments!), travel the world, or simply enjoy couple time, the truth is we’re taking longer to conceive.
As fertility rates decline between our 30s and 40s, it’s ever more important that we’re doing everything we can to boost our chances of having children later in life.
Here are some tips to help you prepare your bodies, minds and homes as you begin to think about nesting.
1. Up Your Nutrient Levels
Even before you plan to have a baby, it’s smart to take steps to boost your fertility as a couple.
During child-bearing years, experts recommend women take a multivitamin with at least 400mcg of folic acid or folate every day to help protect future babies from spinal defects.
Women could consider a daily probiotic to improve immunity and digestion, as well as supplements of omega 3 to boost the quality of the uterus.
Research suggests that men’s fertility is boosted by consuming more antioxidants through a variety of fruits and vegetables—more specifically vitamins C and E.
2. Boost Your Immune System
When partners make healthy habit changes together they’re more likely to stick to them, concluded researchers from University College London.
So if you plan to cook more plant-based whole foods together every day, not only will you keep your immune systems going strong, but you’ll be boosting your fertility as a couple through the addition of iron, folate and vegetable proteins.
Get more tips on how to improve your health before pregnancy.
3. Create Fitness Goals
If you’re a woman and you are overweight, you may find it harder to conceive.
For every body mass index (BMI) point over 30, a woman’s monthly chance for pregnancy decreases by about 12 percent—because her body produces too much estrogen, which can prevent regular ovulation.
In addition to slimming down, improving your posture and building strength through regular exercise can help women have a healthier, less painful pregnancy.
Plus by creating a solid habit of exercise pre-baby, the likelihood is that you’ll stick with it once you have children.
If you work out with a partner, it may help you see exercise as fun rather than a chore—then it can become one of the tools in your parenting kit for relieving stress!
4. Start Your Nest Egg
The cost of a normal birth in Hong Kong can range anywhere from $500 in the public hospitals, up to $300,000 with the private system.
Make a plan now to set aside a portion of your monthly income into savings. Even a small amount every paycheck will make you more prepared for all the expenses that pop up.
It’s not just pregnancy costs such as doctor visits, maternity clothes and time off work you need to plan for, but diapers, baby food and clothing on the horizon too.
5. Evaluate Your Space
Hong Kong apartments are notoriously small, so now is the time to decide if the space is right for expanding your family if you don’t want the stress of packing and moving while pregnant!
Having a baby doesn’t mean you’ll absolutely need a bigger apartment, but as well as considerations like “where do we store the stroller?”, you may need to consider if you need room for a helper.
6. Get To Know Your Doctor
Either individually or as a couple, consider getting a pre-conception check-up with your primary care physician and/or gynecologist.
The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong highly recommends pre-pregnancy consultations to screen couples for hereditary diseases that may affect a baby.
They will also ask key questions about your diet, habits, and birth control; take blood tests, a pap smear and urine/semen analysis to identify any potential health problems.
7. Travel Now, Travel Often
Whether it’s for a romantic vacation, a trip with friends, or a solo break, take advantage of your freedom now, even if it’s just for a mini-break on an outlying island.
Once kids are in the picture, you may find yourself restricted by things like cost and term dates!
Planning for kids is an exciting time! Hopefully this list can help you organize your thoughts and remove any stress from the process, so you can enjoy your quality time as a couple.