Wishing, hoping, planning: When you’re ready to get pregnant

After you decide to start a family, you may well feel like it can’t happen fast enough. Normal life gets shoved aside in favor of ovulation talk and due-date calculators (just in case!). The breathless anticipation that used to precede time alone with your mister now is reserved for the “am I or aren’t I” point in your cycle.

Why not? It’s exciting stuff. And there’s a lot you can do during this time to channel your excitement in productive ways. Here’s what I mean:

  • Have a preconception visit with your doctor to discuss nutrition, ovulation, vitamins, and any other topics that concern you.
  • Get your vitamins. Folic acid is very important. In a perfect world, you’d take folic acid for 3 months before you got pregnant. This vitamin helps decrease the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida. Over-the-counter prenatal vitamins contain the folic acid you need.
  • If you smoke, stop before you get pregnant. I know this is hard, but it makes a big difference in your health, and your baby’s. Take advantage of some of the things that work, like smoking cessation classes and support or nicotine patches.
  • Reach your ideal weight. If you are overweight before you get pregnant, you are more likely to deal with high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy. Losing weight is a challenge, I know, but it pays off in a much healthier pregnancy.

Ready, set, try

Getting pregnant is all about timing. To find out when you’re fertile, track your menstrual cycles. A cycle usually lasts 28-30 days. Count the first day you bleed as day 1. If you start bleeding on March 1 and then bleed again on March 28, you have a 28-day cycle; if you bleed again on March 30, that’s a 30-day cycle.

Most women ovulate (have a mature egg) around mid-cycle, which for a 28-day cycle is day 14 and for a 30-day cycle is around day 15.

If you determine that you’re likely to ovulate on March 14, I advise you to have sex at least every other day beginning around March 12 through March 16 or 17.

Why a five-day span just to hit that one magic day? Because ovulation doesn’t run like a clock. Even if you’ve tracked your cycles, your calculations might be off by a day or two. And although sperm lives 48 hours in your uterus, the egg lives a mere 24 hours. See what I mean? Timing is the key to the whole operation.

You can buy an ovulation predictor kit that enables you to figure out your fertile day by testing your urine. Peeing on a stick — good practice for later on, when you want to see whether your timing worked out.

Here’s hoping!

And if you want to find out more about pre-pregnancy planning, you can always e-mail your questions to me or talk with one of our physicians at a free get-acquainted visit.

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