If you and your partner are considering pregnancy here are some preconception considerations:
1) Folic acid (minimum of 400 mcg of folic acid) is very important to help prevent neural tube defects. This needs to be present prior to conception, so you should start taking a supplement even before trying to get pregnant. Also make sure that you get enough calcium and iron, either in your diet or through supplementation. Over-the-counter prenatal vitamins are a good option. Your partner could also start a multivitamin if desired.
2) Consider having genetic carrier screening. This test, done by collecting a blood sample from the mother, looks for a wide range of genetically inheritable traits such as Cystic Fibrosis, Fragile X Syndrome and Tay Sachs. If two people test positive as carriers for the same condition, there’s a one in four chance or 25% chance their children could develop the disease. This test is separate from early pregnancy genetic testing. We offer it in our office through companies including NxGen MDx and Counsyl.
3) Continue to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine. Being at a healthy weight maximizes your chances of conception as well as a healthy pregnancy.
4) Track your cycles. Remember day 1 is the first day you experience bleeding. The last day of your cycle is the day before you start bleeding. To know when you ovulate, calculate 14 days prior to your last cycle day. For example in a 30-day cycle, ovulation approximately occurs at day 16 of the cycle – which is 16 days from when you started bleeding (day 1). You may also be interested in purchasing ovulation kits to use at home to help determine when you are ovulating.
Eggs live inside the Fallopian tube for only about one day. Sperm can live inside the reproductive tract for 4-5 days. It’s possible to conceive from about 5 days before ovulation, through the day of ovulation. Having intercourse every other day through this time period should optimize rates of conception for most families. The most fertile time is the two days before and during ovulation.
If you are unable to get pregnant after actively trying for 1 year and are under the age of 35, or if you have been trying for 6 months and are over 35, you are welcome to schedule an appointment with a provider at Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group to discuss possible testing and treatment to assist in getting pregnant.
5) We recommend no smoking or recreational drug use while trying to get pregnant or during pregnancy. Light social alcohol use is OK while trying to conceive; heavier use may decrease your chances of conception, and you should stop drinking as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
6) If you have any medical conditions or take any medications (other than occasional over-the-counter pain or cold medicine) you should schedule a preconception visit to make sure your health is optimized prior to pregnancy.
Last updated: Sept 29, 2017 (Dr. Rohn)