Preparing for Pregnancy
For couples who’ve never had children before, starting a family is a big decision filled with a lot of questions. If you and your partner have decided to move forward with starting a family, here are some tips on how to prepare for pregnancy.
Your First Steps
Prior to getting pregnant, there are some things you can do to ensure your body is in perfect condition to carry a healthy pregnancy. The first thing you can do is cut back on drinking and, if you smoke, quit. That goes for both men and women – excess alcohol intake has been shown to interfere with fertility and can lower sperm count. And smoking, even socially, can affect egg quality and sperm. Since these are two things you’ll have to give up when you do become pregnant, gradually phasing them out will prevent a shock to your system.
If you are overweight or obese, losing that excess weight, even if it’s just 10 to 15 pounds, can make it easier to become pregnant and will help you have a healthier pregnancy and delivery with fewer risks and complications.
Start taking a prenatal vitamin if you are considering getting pregnant in the next three to six months. The multivitamin should contain 400 micrograms of folic acid – getting enough vitamin B before and early on in your pregnancy will reduce brain and spine birth defects by up to 70 percent. Prenatal vitamins are also packed with iron, calcium and other nutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy.
You should also schedule a pre-pregnancy check up with your OB/GYN or midwife three months before you plan to start trying to get pregnant. Your provider will be able to make sure you’re up-to-date on vaccines and tested for heart-health issues such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. The doctor will also seek to ensure that any chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma are under control.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is always an important part of making sure you are getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals your body needs. This becomes even more important when a woman becomes pregnant.
A woman needs about 300 extra calories a day to maintain a healthy pregnancy. These extra calories should come from a balanced diet of protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Although some women view pregnancy as a free pass to eat whatever they want, it’s actually more important to carefully consider the foods you’re consuming and make sure you’re taking in foods that are nutrient dense.
One vitamin in particular pregnant women need to make sure they’re getting enough of is folic acid. Folic acid, which is also called folate, is a B vitamin complex. Eating the right amount of folic acid reduces the risk for neural tube defects (NTDS) and birth defects of the brain and spine.
Some genetic disorders can be detected by blood tests before pregnancy. Our highly trained genetic counselors help couples determine if their baby is at risk for a birth defect or genetic disease. Even more importantly, our counselors explain the choices when a concern is found and answer any questions.
Trouble Getting Pregnant?
Many couples who want a child face the problem of infertility—they have tried to conceive, but have not been able to do so.
The monthly potential for achieving a pregnancy in the average fertile couple having unprotected intercourse is only ~ 25 percent. This percentage will not increase even if you have intercourse daily and it reflects human fertility potential or fecundity.
If you have been having unprotected sexual intercourse two or three times a week at the time of ovulation, for a year or more and you are not pregnant, you may want to consider having an infertility evaluation. Our fertility experts can perform an evaluation to find out what is causing the infertility and what can be done to correct it.
So, you've followed all the steps and done all the preparations, but how do you know if it's working? Learn more about the early signs of pregnancy.