What to Know When Planning to Get Pregnant
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What to Know When Planning to Get Pregnant

If you’re trying to get pregnant, you and your partner have probably passed Birds and Bees 101. However, before you start the countdown to your next ovulation date, you have more important things to consider than getting your timing right. The American Congress on Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, stresses the necessity of scheduling a pre-conception visit with your doctor to make sure that you’re in optimal health before you get pregnant.

Pre-Pregnancy Planning

Consulting with your doctor can help you identify aspects of your lifestyle that may need adjustment. As described by the ACOG, this consultation is a thorough evaluation of your ability to conceive and remain healthy during your pregnancy. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history, diet, the medications you take and specific diseases that run in your family in addition to any past pregnancies. The ACOG stresses the importance of being forthcoming with your doctor so as to prevent potential complications down the line.

Lifestyle Concerns

Some of the lifestyle issues your doctor will discuss are your current weight, level of physical activity and eating habits. If you don’t get enough folic acid in your diet, your doctor may recommend a supplement, as adequate folic acid reduces the chance that your baby will be born with a neural tube defect. If you carry around extra weight, your heart is working even harder when you’re pregnant. Your doctor may counsel you to lose weight — or, if you’re underweight, to gain a few pounds before you get pregnant. Your level of physical activity also has bearing. According to the ACOG, active women have an easier pregnancy and quicker recovery time. Your doctor will also ask you if you smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs. Use of any of these substances may not only hinder your ability to conceive; it can be detrimental to your developing child. Work with your doctor to kick your bad habits, with the help of appropriate medication regimens or support programs as necessary.

Medical Concerns

Any health problems you have prior to pregnancy are addressed during your preconception visit, according to the ACOG. If you have hypertension, diabetes, seizures or heart disease, or if you take medications to treat your condition, discuss options thoroughly with your doctor, as certain medications can harm your developing child. A preconception visit is extremely beneficial should you or your partner have any health concerns, notes MayoClinic.com.

Understanding Your Fertility

Ovulation — the stage at which your ovaries release an egg — takes place around the 14th day of your menstrual cycle. Prior to that time, between the sixth and 14th day, hormones cause the follicles in one of your ovaries to mature;. Between the 10th and 14th day, generally only one ovary will form and release a mature egg, which traverses your fallopian tube to your uterus. According to the American Pregnancy Association, or APA, once an egg is released, it’s viable for only 12 to 24 hours. You can determine the best time for you to get pregnant in a variety of ways, starting with simply keeping an eye on the calendar.

Fertility Cues

To figure out when you’re ovulating, MayoClinic.com suggests keeping track of the first day of your period and simply counting ahead by 14 days. Look for changes in vaginal discharge; you may notice that it becomes clearer and thinner. Taking your basal temperature is another way to gauge when you’re most likely to conceive, as ovulation causes a minute change in temperature, usually by less than a degree. Unfortunately,because you’re most fertile two to three days before you notice a temperature spike, by the time you notice a slight increase in temperature, it’s often too late to conceive, according to MayoClinic.com. Over-the-counter ovulation kits, which the APA recommends, test the levels of hormones in your urine. However, as with taking your basal temperature, these kits, which are sometimes expensive, often encourage last-minute sexual intercourse that’s timed just a little too late to produce fertile results.

Other Tips

When planning to get pregnant, start with simple trial and error. Having sex with your partner and having it frequently and consistently at least two or three times a week increases your chance of getting pregnant, especially if you plan a day before your estimated ovulation date. If you’re under the age of 35 and neither you nor your partner have health issues, MayoClinic.com encourages you simply to give the process some time — at least a year — before you see a doctor. If you’re 35 or older and/or you or your partner think or know you have fertility issues, see a doctor who specializes in this field.

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