What To Do When you Want to Start Trying
If you have decided the time is right to have a baby, congratulations! This is an exciting time however there are a few things that can help you conceive and have a healthier pregnancy.
Schedule a preconception visit: If you do not have an OBGYN this is a good time to establish care.
- Preconception labs are recommended. These may include your blood type, iron level, rubella and chicken pox immunization status along with screening for HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis
- Genetic screening is also recommended. Blood work can be done to screen women for genetic mutations resulting in them being an asymptomatic carrier for cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, fragile X syndrome or other genetic diseases. If a woman is a carrier of one of these diseases, her partner can then be screened to see if they are at risk for having an affected child.
Prenatal vitamins: Prenatal vitamins are most effective if taken for at least one month prior to conception. The goal here is to build up enough of the good nutrients and have them ready right away for your baby. For the average woman, a good prenatal vitamin is one that contains folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D and fatty acids such as DHA and Omega 3.
Avoid unhealthy habits: Having a baby is a great reason to start leading a healthier lifestyle.
- Maintain a healthy weight: obesity increases the risk of miscarriage as well as the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes of pregnancy.
- Quit smoking: Cigarettes contain toxins that cause mutations in the genes within eggs which increases the risk of miscarriage. In this case, secondhand smoke can be just as dangerous as smoking.
- Decrease alcohol use: Just 5-8 drinks per week decreases the chance of successful conception and implantation.
- Avoid marijuana: marijuana suppresses the pathway of hormones between the bran and ovaries which help with ovulation. If ovulation does not occur, then there is 0% chance of a successful pregnancy.
Optimize your health: A healthy mama helps make healthy baby. If you have any medical conditions it is important to have them well controlled prior to trying to conceive.
- Hypertension or high blood pressure: having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing preeclampsia however this risk can be mitigated by getting blood pressure improved before conception.
- Not all blood pressure medications are safe in pregnancy. If you are on blood pressure medication, discuss your desire to conceive with your healthcare provider. He or she may will be able to change your medication or confirm that you are already taking a pregnancy safe medication.
- Diabetes: A hemoglobin A1c over 7%, indicative of poorly controlled diabetes, at conception increases the risk of birth defects including heart and spine malformations. Therefore, it is very important to have diabetes well managed prior to getting pregnant.
- Seizures: Some seizure medications are associated with birth defects when used in pregnancy. If you have a seizure disorder and take medication, talk to your neurologist about your desire to conceive and switching to a medication that is safe in pregnancy.
- Psychiatric conditions: Some medications used for anxiety, Bipolar disorder or other psychiatric conditions are not safe in pregnancy. If you take any medication for mental health, talk to your healthcare provider about switching to a medication safe in pregnancy.
Track your menstrual cycle: The average menstrual cycle is 28 days however anything from 24-35 days is considered within the normal range. The first day of menses is day 1 of a new cycle. Ovulation typically occurs on day 14 of a 28 days cycle or 2 weeks before the next menses begins.
- Tracking your cycles on paper or an app can help you predict ovulation. Over the counter ovulation predictor kits can also help and should be used around the day when ovulation is predicted.
- The most fertile time to have intercourse is the 5 days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation
- Pregnancy tests vary in sensitivity. Some claim to detect pregnancy as early as 1 week before missed menses. If you have a positive pregnancy test or missed menses, call your healthcare provider to schedule a pregnancy confirmation visit.