Preparing for Pregnancy
Preparing for pregnancy overview
- When trying to conceive naturally, the first step in preparing for pregnancy is for the couple to understand and follow sex practices that enhance their chances, including having regular sexual intercourse without contraception, and when possible, timing intercourse to coincide with the woman’s ovulation.
- When pursuing fertility treatment to get pregnant, a couple should discuss all their options with a reproductive endocrinologist to decide on the best treatment.
- A preconception visit or a fertility consultation and diagnosis appointment can assess a woman’s health and ability to get pregnant, as well as the health of her partner if the couple is struggling with infertility.
- Aside from physical health, mental and emotional health is also important when preparing for pregnancy, whether conceiving naturally or with assisted reproduction technologies.
How can a woman prepare for pregnancy?
When women or couple decides to have a child, whether through natural conception or through fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), there are several things they can do to prepare the woman’s body and mind for pregnancy.
Make a preconception visit with an OB/GYN
The doctor will likely review the medical heath of the woman, go over any prescriptions she is taking that could be harmful to pregnancy, advise her to take a multivitamin and recommend a diet or exercise plan to maintain or reach a healthy weight. This is also a good opportunity for the doctor to review both partners’ medical histories and possibly recommend genetic testing when needed. Benefit from university care:
Start taking folic acid or a prenatal vitamin
Folic acid is essential to the development of the baby’s neural tube, which forms in the first few weeks of pregnancy before many women even know they are pregnant. The neural tube will eventually become the baby’s brain and spinal column. A lack of folic acid in a woman’s diet could cause issues such as spina bifida, a defect caused by an underdeveloped neural tube.
Avoid drinking, smoking & any drugs
Smoking and drug use are correlated with a high risk of miscarriage, premature labor and low birth weight. Tobacco use can cause fertility issues for both women and men. Drugs can stay in a person’s system even after their effects wear off and impede fertility. Drinking moderately (one drink a day) is acceptable while trying to conceive, but physicians recommend that women stop drinking altogether once pregnant.
Swap chips and soda for healthier options
Women trying to conceive should eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables per day, along with a diet rich in calcium, protein and whole grains.
Maintain or reach a healthy weight
Having a body mass index (BMI) that is too low or too high can have negative affects on fertility. Women with a high BMI are more likely to have pregnancy and delivery complications, and women with too low of a BMI are more likely to deliver low birth weight babies.
Continue or start exercising
Moderate exercise (30 minutes a day of low intensity exercise such as walking or cycling) is recommended to help a woman’s body prepare for pregnancy. However, too much exercise could make getting pregnant difficult, so it’s important for women to discuss the right level of exercise with their OB/GYN.
Visit a dentist
The hormonal changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy can make pregnant women more susceptible to gum disease. Many dental procedures cannot be done while pregnant, so it is best to go in for a cleaning and checkup prior to becoming pregnant.
Evaluate mental health & stress levels and take action if necessary
Women suffering from depression are also more likely to experience fertility issues. It is important to speak with a psychiatrist or counselor about any symptoms of depression. A psychiatrist can prescribe a medication, if needed, that will be safe during pregnancy. Stress levels can be managed by holistic treatments, such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation.
Check finances & insurance coverage
It is important for couples to check what type of prenatal coverage their insurance company provides. Most insurance covers all recommended visits during pregnancy, as well as the birth of the child. However, out of pocket expenses for just the birth can range from $9,000-15,000, and the majority of fertility treatments are not covered by health insurance. Loma Linda University employees:
Additional preparations when trying to conceive naturally
Start tracking ovulation
Knowledge about the menstrual cycle and when ovulation occurs is essential to timing intercourse to better your chances of getting pregnant.
Stop taking birth control
Depending on the type of birth control a woman has been taking, she could get pregnant right away or it could take up to a year. Residual hormone effects from methods such as the pill, the patch or a vaginal ring will be out of a woman’s system after a few days of non-use. A woman’s body could take up to a year to resume normal ovulation after stopping the Depo-Provera shot.
Implementing these steps should help a woman to physically and mentally prepare her body for pregnancy.