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Looking to become pregnant? For many women it requires a little pre-planning and coordination in order to achieve a positive test. There are some important health steps to consider during this process.
1) Rethink your birth control. If you’re looking to become pregnant in the next 6 months, stop your hormones (pill, patch, ring, or implant), have your IUD removed and get your cycle back on track naturally. Some women can take months to return to normal. Unfortunately if you aren’t ready quite yet for a baby, you’ll have to use a barrier method like a condom.
2) Start your pre-natal vitamins now. The folic acid in those vitamins helps protect against neural tube defects. This occurs in about 1 in 1,000 babies around the third or fourth week of pregnancy. During that time the neural tube begins to close and fuse. Folic acid can help reduce your chance of problems.
3) Start taking a good quality fish oil with at least 300mg of DHA (read the back of the label). DHA has been linked to healthier brain development in utero and I know we all want smart babies!
4) Stop smoking as soon as possible! If you know it’s going to be difficult for you to quit, pregnant or not, then you need to start right now before you become pregnant. Cigarette smoke really impacts the quality of the egg (and sperm if your partner smokes) and the development of the fetus.
5) Chart your cycle. You already know when you start your period, that first day is considered day one of your cycle. Pay attention to ovulation signs which generally occurs 10-18 days after that first day. Look for changes in mucus to a more stretchy consistency, and consider doing ovulation predictor kits until you see a positive. Make sure you’re having plenty of sex during this time!
6) Keep your weight in check. Too low and too high body weight can really impact your chances of fertility. Cut out sugar and eat a high protein, low simple carbohydrate diet, and exercise most days of the week.
7) Have some blood testing done.