Expecting: Planning for Pregnancy

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You’re ready to give baby-making a try ... but first, keep these things in mind.

Planning for a new baby is an exciting time in your life! Being in tune with your body and taking all of the necessary steps can make this milestone all the more special and gratifying.

PREPARING YOUR BODY
Before you take the leap, your self care is vital to a healthy conception, pregnancy and can even increase your chances of getting pregnant.  Begin by taking your prenatal vitamins.

“The most important thing is to start a prenatal vitamin,” says Jenny Demos, D.O., an OB-GYN at The Christ Hospital. “Neural tube defects occur before most people even know that they’re pregnant, and folic acid in the prenatal vitamin helps prevent that.”

It’s also essential to have an overall healthy lifestyle — stop smoking (including marijuana), stop drinking alcohol and taking drugs. A healthy lifestyle also means to maintain a healthy body weight or body mass index (BMI). These healthy changes can decrease the chances of stillbirth, gestational diabetes and other complications during your pregnancy. An unhealthy body weight may also decrease your chances of getting pregnant in the first place, according to Demos.

“It can keep you from ovulating,” she explains. “Fat cells help to create estrogen, and too much estrogen can keep you from ovulating,” Demos adds.

If you are someone who requires medications for health-related issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure, for example, it’s important to talk with your OB-GYN first before trying to conceive. That way he can make sure you are optimized for pregnancy.

CONCEIVING

We all know how to create a human being but to actually understand your cycle, fertility and facts can help you along the way, plus decrease your chances of discouragement or frustration.

Not everyone wants to keep track of their cycle and every little detail. However, if this is how you roll, take a deep breath and remember that this time it should be enjoyable.

“I recommend having fun at first,” suggests Demos, “because it can take the romance out really quick if you’re desperately trying and trying to do it around your cycle.”

Theoretically, day 14 is when you start to ovulate during your cycle. The best days to try are days 10, 12, 14 and 16. If you’re not a fan of numbers, there are other ways to track your cycle such as taking your basal body temperature each morning (BBT) or buying over-the counter ovulation tests — which all tell you if you’re ovulating or not.

Although a menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days, not all women ovulate the same and may experience irregular cycles, which makes it difficult to track. An irregular cycle means you may experience missed, early or late periods; it lasts more than eight days; or occurs more frequently than every 21 days. Often this isn’t something to worry about, but sometimes it can signal health complications.

“If you’re not having regular cycles, you need to get in with your OB-GYN sooner rather than later,” says Demos.

Irregular cycles can be as simple as decreasing your stress level. If you’re stressed, your body knows best, so find a way to eliminate the tension in your body. Try yoga or walking every morning.

Increasing your chances of conceiving is related to your overall health, understanding your cycle, and most importantly, trying your very best to relax, have fun and embrace the adventure with your partner.

“Enjoy the time and have fun. Because once there’s a baby,” Demos laughs, “that fun and spontaneity can go away.”

FERTILITY

The chances of getting pregnant each month is 20 percent; and the chances of getting pregnant within one year, is 80 percent, according to Demos.

That being said, don’t get discouraged, most couples will get pregnant within a year. However, age plays a significant role in these numbers. If you’re younger than 35 and you’ve been trying for a year, older than 35 and trying for six months, or older than 40 and trying for three months, you will need to be evaluated and meet with your OB-GYN. If you experience irregular periods, don’t wait that long — go see your OB-GYN right away.

It is not recommended to pursue any fertility treatments if you do not experience any issues. This can, first of all, become a huge expense that many insurance companies will not cover. Second, there is not a “yes” or “no” answer to fertility — it goes a bit deeper than that.

“There are different things that you have to evaluate,” says Demos. “Are your fallopian tubes open, are the quality of your eggs good, are you ovulating, is your uterus in a good place for pregnancy — there are a lot of different things that go into it.”

It’s not always the women who experience difficulties; your partner may need an evaluation, too. Many details come into play. If you experience fertility issues, then it’s time to talk to your doctor, and pursue treatment from there.

“If the couple is being evaluated for infertility, the male will be asked to leave a sample for testing; women will do some lab work,” says Demos.

If you still experience issues, oral medications may be prescribed to help you ovulate.

TRYING FOR ANOTHER

If you recently had a baby and you want to try for another, take one step back and talk to your doctor first. In fact, doctors recommend you wait it out at least 12 – 18 months before trying to add another addition to the family.

“Being pregnant takes a pretty big toll on your body,” says Demos. “And your uterus really needs to take that time to recover and heal after being pregnant, especially if you’ve had a C-section.”

Even if you previously had a natural childbirth, it’s important to allow your body to heal. If you’re at an advanced maternal age or older than 40, talk with your doctor before trying to conceive again.

Apps to Help You STAY ON TRACK

Check out these apps (some are free!) to help track your cycle and fertility.

Fertility Friend: Tracks your cycle and tells you when you’re ovulating.

Glow: Menstrual and ovulation calculator. Also has a BBT chart that records your period dates, mood, symptoms and more.

Kindara: Based on the fertility awareness method, this app is an ovulation calculator with a BBT chart and period calendar.

Ovia Fertility: Supports women with irregular periods and syncs with the

Health app: plus tracks your period dates, mood, symptoms and more.

Clue: Tracks cramps, emotions, skin, hair, sleep, sex, pain, moods, cervical fluid and more.

Period Tracker: Tracks ovulation, period, PMS symptoms and more.

Online Resources

Local resources to help you if you and your partner experience fertility issues.

Spring Creek Fertility
springcreekfertility.com
Provides fertility clinic experience for families in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

Institute for Reproductive Health
cincinnatifertility.com
Specializes in complete care for those who struggle with fertility.

Parental Hope
parentalhope.org
Helps raise infertility awareness, and provides emotional and financial support for couples who struggle with infertility.

UC Health
uchealth.com/fertility
Offer The Center for Reproductive Health, the only comprehensive patient care and research center that focuses on fertility in the Greater Cincinnati area.

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, a military wife and mom of two. If you don't see her writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.

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