First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a laundry list of things before a baby carriage is even in the picture: morning sickness, prenatal visits, preparing a space for the new addition—and for thousands of couples in Utah, even trying to conceive is a process.
If you’re ready to have a baby, this post is for you. Dr. Alex Larson, OB/GYN at our Women’s Center at Ogden Regional Medical Center shares some tips for optimizing your chance of getting pregnant and a few things to do right now to prepare your body for the journey ahead.
First Things First: Coming off Birth Control
“The type of contraception you’re using will determine how soon you’ll be able to conceive. Non-hormonal methods (such as condoms or the copper IUD) are essentially ineffective as soon as you stop using them” says Dr. Larson. Women on the pill may need a few weeks to return to a normal menstrual cycle, at which time she can become pregnant. Other forms of long-term birth control will delay ovulation a little longer. “A woman who’s had the Depo-Povera shot might need to wait up to a year before she is fertile again.” Talk to your primary care physician or OB/GYN about the type of birth control you’re on.
Back to Basics: Evaluate your General Health
“Moderate exercise and a healthy diet will maximize your health” says Dr. Larson. You might not be eating for two yet, but stocking up on essential nutrients will promote a healthy pregnancy. That means colorful veggies and fruits, calcium sources such as milk and orange juice, and plenty of protein.
Protect your Pregnancy with Folic Acid
Of all the vitamins a woman needs during pregnancy, folic acid is the most important. “Folic acid is a crucial vitamin early-on in pregnancy. It plays a vital role in a baby’s development just 20 days after conception—that’s before many women even know they’re pregnant!” A minimum of 400 mcg daily is recommended to reduce the risk of neural-tube defects such as spina bifida in babies.
Where do I get folic acid?
Over-the-counter prenatal vitamins contain an adequate amount of folic acid to support a healthy pregnancy. The bottom line from Dr. Larson: “I don’t care about the brand, I just urge women of childbearing age to pick up prenatal vitamins and take them regularly when they’re thinking about having a baby.”
Timing is Everything
Sex on an agenda may not seem too, well, sexy, but when you’re trying to have a baby, timing is everything. “Natural fertility tracking means understanding your menstrual cycle to increase the chance of becoming pregnant. Cycles are not all ‘by-the-book’ so it’s important to recognize your own body changes.” There are a number of ovulation indicators, including:
- Calendar tracking
- Ovulation predictor kits (available from your local pharmacy)
- Basal body temperature tracking
- Tracking changes in cervical mucus
Want to learn more about cycle tracking? Schedule a visit with one of our Women’s Health experts for information about these methods.
Why am I doing all the work? It takes two to tango!
You may not find men annotating pre-pregnancy books or stocking up on vitamins, but these practices should be more commonplace for would-be dads. Like women, men should get plenty of folic acid, zinc, and vitamin C: vital nutrients for healthy, speedy swimmers. Lifestyle changes like reducing stress and maintaining a healthy weight will improve sperm production. Dr. Larson also added that there are some supplements on the market such as FertilAid® with ingredients that help improve sperm count and motility.
“I also advise couples that, in some cases, more sex does not necessarily increase fertility. Sperm counts may need a day or two to recover, so having sex three times a day may not be as effective as maybe once per day or even every other day” says Dr. Larson.
Does Ogden Clinic have infertility solutions?
Infertility is characterized by having unprotected sex for 12+ months without becoming pregnant. If nature isn’t taking its course for you and your partner, we can help!
“All Ogden Clinic OB/GYNs do preliminary evaluations for those struggling to conceive,” says Dr. Larson, “Infertility may be either physiological or anatomical in nature and both can be evaluated here.”
Schedule a comprehensive evaluation at one of our Women’s Center locations. We also have ties to specialists in the area for advanced fertility treatment.