If you’re in one of these modes, you’ve got time to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. Dr. Natalie Rochester, an OB/GYN at University of Colorado Health OB/GYN who delivers babies at Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, offers these suggestions.
“We want mom to be as healthy as possible before she conceives,” said Rochester. “That means eating a healthy diet and exercising at least 30 minutes a day, and having all of your medical problems under excellent control before trying to conceive.”
“Prenatal vitamins are also super-duper important. A couple of months before trying to get pregnant, start taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid. The vitamins lower the risk of birth defects.” Rochester said. You can buy prenatal vitamins over-the counter or get a prescription from your doctor. It’s important to know what to expect when you start trying to get pregnant.
“Many women think they’ll get pregnant quickly and are surprised when they don’t,” said Rochester. “It often takes a number of months. In fact, only 85 percent of women with no infertility issues will be pregnant within a year, even if they’ve been having timed and frequent sex.”
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while without success, Rochester suggests keeping an ovulation calendar. “Many women don’t understand their menstrual cycles and when they can get pregnant,” said Rochester. “Keep track of your periods and have sex at the most opportune times.”
Your ovaries release an egg about 12 to 14 days before your period starts. If you have a 28-day cycle, you’ll usually ovulate sometime between day 12 and day 16 of your cycle (with day one of your cycle being the day your period starts). To conceive, your egg needs to be fertilized within 12 to 24 hours of ovulation. Sperm live for two or three days, so if you want to get pregnant, you need to have sex a few days before you ovulate through the day of ovulation.
After six months of regular and timed sex without a pregnancy and if you’re frustrated about your results, talk to your doctor. There are simple tests and treatments your doctor can use without going the full-blown infertility route. But remember, you’re still well within the one-year, 85-percent window.
“People don’t always seek care when they’ve been trying unsuccessfully because they’re afraid of the costs and protocols of infertility treatment,” said Rochester. “But the truth is, there are a number of simple next steps we can take.”
A blood test can reveal whether or not you’re ovulating each month. Medications that stimulate egg production are also relatively easy to take and manage. The prospective mom’s age is also a fertility factor. Women ages 20 to 35 have the highest chances of conceiving quickly and delivering a healthy baby without complications.
“But I have many patients who are in their late thirties and early forties,” said Rochester. Finally, remember that each pregnancy is different. If you conceived quickly with your first baby but are having trouble conceiving your second, you’re not alone. It’s not uncommon for conception to take many months. And during those months, it’s essential that moms don’t neglect their own health.
“After they have one child, women tend to be so busy that they don’t take care of themselves,” said Rochester. “But it’s important for them to be in good health before they get pregnant again.”
• I’m eating a healthy diet.
• I’m exercising at least 30 minutes a day, most days.
• I’m taking prenatal vitamins.
• I’m abstaining from alcohol, drugs and marijuana.
• I’m up-to-date on routine doctor’s check-ups, including my annual pelvic exam and pap smear.
• I’ve talked to my doctor about any pregnancy risk factors I might have.
• I’m managing well any chronic health conditions (such as diabetes or high blood pressure).
To make an appointment with an OB/GYN or one of the certified nurse midwives at UCHealth, call 970.336.1500.