If having a baby is on your mind, then you’re likely wondering where to begin and what you and your partner can do to help the process.
“This is an exciting and important time for women planning to grow their families,” says Nicole Giangregorio, manager of Women’s Support Programs and Education at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns. “Decisions you make before you get pregnant can make a big difference for your health and the health of your baby.”
Here are five things to do as you prepare for pregnancy:
- Schedule an appointment with an OBGYN.
If you’re thinking of having a baby, schedule an appointment and establish a relationship with an OBGYN. This commonly used abbreviation refers to a doctor who delivers babies (obstetrician) and also specializes in women’s reproductive health (gynecologist).
During your first visit, your doctor will review key points to ensure a healthy start before becoming pregnant.
- Understand your medical history and genetics.
At your appointment, be prepared to answer questions about your gynecological history. This may include previous pregnancies or other gynecological issues such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), endometriosis or fibroids. Additionally, your doctor will want to review your mental and physical health.
It’s helpful to bring a list of current medications and vitamins you’re taking and a record of your immunizations. You’ll also discuss your family medical history for possible genetic issues or inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis or spinal muscular atrophy. Your doctor may also ask about your partner’s health and medical history. Being honest about your current and past health can help your doctor offer you the best advice going forward.
- Think about your health and lifestyle.
Everyday habits such as exercise, diet, prolonged sitting and exposure to harmful chemicals, smoking, and drinking can all affect developing babies. Your doctor will need to know about these behaviors so you can discuss ways to form healthy habits and address any potential problems before you get pregnant.
- Start taking prenatal vitamins.
Your doctor will likely recommend you begin taking a prenatal vitamin containing at least 800 micrograms of folic acid prior to conceiving. Folic acid has been shown to help prevent birth defects.
- Attend an informational seminar.
Attending a pre-pregnancy seminar will help answer your questions and prepare you for the journey. Sharp offers a Planning for Pregnancy Seminar where guests can learn from a reproductive endocrinologist, OBGYN and other specialists. The seminar covers a wide range of topics that will help you feel informed and empowered.
Topics reviewed at Sharp’s seminar include:
Family planning — If you’re considering having a baby, it is recommended to have a conversation with your partner to discuss when to begin, how many children you want, how far apart to have the children and if your age will have an impact on these choices.
Impacts to natural fertility — Factors such as your body mass index (BMI), caffeine intake, marijuana use and gynecological health all impact your natural fertility. Being informed will help you have a healthy start and be proactive about what you have control over.
Tips on conceiving — Frequency and timing of intercourse around ovulation affect the likelihood of pregnancy. Learning how to monitor your ovulation can be helpful in increasing your chance of getting pregnant.
When to see a specialist — Experts will share options available to those who may struggle to conceive.