It is a momentous day in the life of a family when the decision is made to add a member. To ensure the safest pregnancy and delivery, there are many things a woman can do to prepare. First and foremost, a woman should optimize her health before trying to conceive. This means doing blood tests to ensure that her childhood immunizations to illnesses like German measles are still working. It also means going over any medications she is taking to make sure that they are safe during pregnancy. A woman with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or depression should make sure she is in the best control possible prior to getting pregnant.
Another preconception must is starting a daily regimen of folic acid. This can be taken by itself, or as part of a prenatal vitamin. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defect, a common birth defect. Stopping unhealthy habits is also recommended prior to pregnancy- this includes alcohol, tobacco, and a sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, a women should try to be at her healthiest weight prior to conceiving.
Even before a woman is ready to conceive, she should begin tracking her menstrual cycle. In a typical 28 day cycle, a woman is most fertile 10 to 14 days after the first day of her period. If the cycle is longer, such as 35 days, then her fertile time is 21 days after her period starts. Alternatively, for a woman with a short 3 week cycle, she is most fertile on day 7 of her cycle. To increase chances of conception, a couple should abstain for a few days before the most fertile period, and then begin having intercourse every other day during the fertile time.
It is important to remember that, even in perfect conditions, only 1 out of 5 couples will conceive on any given month. However, 80% of couples trying to conceive will be pregnant within a year. With this information in mind, prepare for pregnancy, and do not be discouraged if it doesn’t happen the first few months of trying. Most couples will achieve their dream in less than a year.
Tamar Gottfried is a Board Certified Obstetrician/ gynecologist practicing general Ob/gyn in Mesa Arizona and affiliated with Banner Desert and Banner Gateway Medical Centers. She can be contacted at 480-545-0059. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be medical advice. See a medical professional before making medical decisions
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