I want to get pregnant. Where do I start? This is the number one question I get asked. And for some people, it’s an easy answer. For me, I struggle with finding that perfect starting point. Because there are so many things simultaneously. But the answer was right in front of me the whole time: you’ve already started!
You made the decision that you want to get pregnant. That is the starting point! After that, it’s just taking steps. Some journeys are shorter than others, for sure. But they are all just a series of steps.
Here are the first steps that I recommend taking after deciding you want to get pregnant:
Talk to your partner
This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at the number of women that come to me, saying they want to get pregnant but their partner doesn’t. The decision to get pregnant needs to be a joint decision.
If one partner decides they want to get pregnant and takes steps to create that outcome without their partner being on board, it causes resentments. It can cause resentments toward not only the partner but also toward the resulting child(ren).
Talk to your doctor
Make a doctor’s appointment after you talk to your partner. Make sure that you tell your practitioner that you are wanting to get pregnant and that you want to make sure you are healthy enough to get pregnant.
My OBGYN put me on prenatals at my pre-pregnancy checkup. She said that it was to make sure that my body had enough of the appropriate vitamins before getting pregnant.
Stop birth control
Once you have talked to your partner and decided that you are both on the same page, and checked with your doctor that you are healthy enough to get pregnant, then it is time to stop taking your birth control.
I want to note here that depending on the birth control you were using, you may not get pregnant right away. Some women take up to 12 months after stopping birth control before their cycles return to normal and it may take up to 12 months after that before getting pregnant.
Start tracking your cycle
Tracking your menstrual cycle can alert you to underlying problems that may have been masked by your birth control. I recommend tracking your periods, your daily basal body temperature, and your cervical mucus. Paying attention to your fertility signs will alert you when your ovulation returns after birth control and will allow you to start trying to get pregnant.
Smoking is not healthy, whether you are trying to get pregnant or not. When I told my OBGYN that I vaped with the lowest level of nicotine (3mg), she told me to just try to reduce my use if I couldn’t quit.
The average cigarette contains around 12 milligrams of nicotine. However, the mg of nicotine in cigarettes can range from 8 milligrams all the way up to more than 24 milligrams, depending on the strength.
Nicotine use during trying to conceive can cause lesser quality eggs. Nicotine exposure during pregnancy, whether from smoking cigarettes, or nicotine patches and e-cigarettes, increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Researchers at University College London (UCL) studied the issue of vaping and fertility, and they found that beyond the worries of nicotine and additives, the flavouring in ‘vape juice’, a mixture of water, food-grade flavouring, a choice of nicotine levels or zero nicotine, and propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin can affect sperm. The study found that vape juices greatly diminished fertility: bubblegum flavour killed off cells in the testicles and the cinnamon-flavoured vape juice negatively impacted sperm motility (how sperm moves and swims).
Stop consuming alcohol
Remember that once you get a positive pregnancy test result back, you’re already (at least) four weeks pregnant. The embryo, which will hopefully develop into a healthy baby, has existed for two or more weeks.
There is no known safe alcoholic consumption level during pregnancy. The possible risks to your unborn child are too great to ignore.
Drinking during pregnancy has been associated with:
- birth defects (including facial deformities)
- low birth weight
- preterm delivery
- developmental delays and long-term cognitive disabilities
- fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
- stillbirth (in severe cases).
Moderate exercise/being active can boost your fertility. Women who do regular, moderate exercise get pregnant quicker than women who don’t exercise regularly.
It doesn’t have to be an exercise class in the gym, it means any activity that will:
- raise your heart rate
- make you breathe faster
- make you feel warmer.
You should still be able to talk without pausing to breathe. Walking briskly, for example, counts as moderate activity.
The problem arises for some women when there is an energy deficit—when you are burning more calories than you consume. And developing an energy deficit is much easier than many women realise.
If your energy intake isn’t enough for your body to complete its basic functions, you are in energy deficit. See more information on energy deficits and exercising.
Start eating more whole foods
I am not saying that you have to completely change your diet, but a healthy mommy makes for a healthy baby. Trying to eat as cleanly as possible decreases the number of pesticides and additives you’re exposed to. A whole food diet has also been found to increase your fertility. I really like this pre-pregnancy diet from What to Expect.
The main things to focus on are:
- decrease processed foods
- decrease caffeine and pop
- increase fruit and veggies
- eat 3 meals a day.
If you would like more information on any of these topics, don’t hesitate to reach out!!
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