Deciding to have a baby is obviously a life-changing decision. There are many things to consider before trying to conceive. Here are some helpful tips so that you may have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Schedule a preconception counseling appointment.
Your obstetrician will review your medical history, making sure that you are healthy enough for pregnancy and that your vaccines are up-to-date, since some vaccines are not safe if administered during pregnancy. Your doctor will be able to recommend a prenatal vitamin best suited for you so that you can start taking the vitamin before you try to become pregnant.
Your doctor also will discuss how to optimize your chance of getting pregnant with each menstrual cycle by using ovulation predictor kits, which tell when your ovary releases an egg to be fertilized. There also are smartphone apps that can track your cycles.
If you are younger than 35 and have been unable to get pregnant after 12 months, your OB should test for infertility, some of which may be treatable. The same testing is offered to women who are 35 years or older if unable to get pregnant after six months.
In order to have the safest pregnancy possible, start with a normal body mass index, since obesity causes an increased risk of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, a disease of high-blood pressure and protein in the urine.
Weight loss also can improve chronic medical problems, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure. Several medications used to treat these medical conditions are not safe in pregnancy. Your OB will discuss switching to medications that are safer for developing babies at your preconception counseling appointment.
It is also important to quit smoking, abstain from alcohol and stop using illicit drugs. These substances unsafe in pregnancyalso can cause difficulties getting pregnant.
Many psychiatric medications, such as lithium, used to treat bipolar disorder, are unsafe in pregnancy. Your doctor can review your medication list and suggest safer alternatives. Behavioral therapy is also an option to treat anxiety or depression.
Preparing for pregnancy and life with a baby may seem overwhelming, but with proper planning and the support of pregnancy experts, you can give yourself the best chance for a successful pregnancy.
Dr. Sarah E. Borders is an OB/GYN with Lexington Women’s Health. She practices at Baptist Health Lexington.