Some of my well-intentioned female friends have considered having children with men that clearly did not want children.
“He’ll change his mind once he sees the baby,” they croon. That certainly could happen, but they don’t seem to imagine that it is just as likely that he won’t.
Step one on the baby-making health plan: ensure that the person you will be doing the parenting with is really, truly on board.
When we are young women, we are terrified at the thought of pregnancy. We think it could happen to us in any encounter. Then, when we actually want it to happen, it suddenly doesn’t seem as simple as leaving two people who are attracted to one another in the same room alone together.
If you have ditched your contraception and are reading baby blogs with avid curiosity, you might also want to consider these steps on the baby-making health route:
1) Get a full physical.
"Meeting with your ob-gyn is an important first step for couples planning to conceive," says Michele Hakakha, M.D.
Hakakha is also a co-author of “Expecting 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy.” Your doctor will likely review your health history, including the medications you take, and help to tweak your lifestyle if necessary.
Your physician will also be available to answer any questions you may have, no matter how silly you may think they are. They have heard them before.(1)
2) Start taking your prenatals.
Although up to 50 percent of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended, taking folic acid is a must as soon as you are considering a promotion to parent. It is an easy step that is required for the growth and development of the fetus.
Folic acid also has been known for some time to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the offspring, and it is associated with the prevention of congenital heart disease.(2)
3) Ditch the alcohol — or at the very least, reduce the amount.
Dr. Annie Britton from University College London writes, “Total abstinence may not be necessary to maximize conception rates [...] if alcohol is consumed moderately, it seems that this may not affect fertility."
However, a recent study published by the BMJ found that if someone drinks more than 14 drinks a week, this can affect their fertility. Binge drinking not only affects menstrual cycles, but also can potentially harm a baby during early pregnancy. If you can’t stop at one, you may want to consider not partaking at all.(3)
4) Learn about your cycle.
Do you even know when you are ovulating? Most women don’t. It can vary tremendously, but there are ways to keep track, such as monitoring when your basal body temperature is at its lowest. There are also ovulation predictor kits, which can let you know when you should plan your sexiest of times.(4)
5) Reduce the stress.
Stress can be one of the causes of infertility. Fortunately it can also be a relatively simple one to fix. Look at our article on yoga and preconception "Yoga: Relieving Stress on the Baby-making Train" for some ideas on how to relax through easy postures. At the very least, make sure your schedule leaves room to take a deep breath.
Reviewed September 23, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
1) DeBellis, Lauren. A Guide To Your Preconception Visit. Parents Magazine. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
2) James A Greenberg, MD Stacey J Bell, DSc, RD, Yong Guan, MD, and Yan-hong Yu, MD, PhD. Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention. Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2011 Summer; 4(2): 52–59.
3) Newman, Tim. How Much Influence Does Alcohol Have On Female Fertility? Medical News Today. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
4) 5 Ways To Tell You’re Ovulating. What To Expect. Retrieved 16 September 2016.