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Before You Begin Trying to Conceive

Lori Ramsey


Are you ready to start trying to conceive? Should you just hop in bed and hope for the best? Well, you could - and you could end up pregnant right away and have a healthy pregnancy. Or you could go months and months with nothing happening. Just to be on the safe side, it's best to do a few things from the very beginning.

Schedule an exam with your OB/GYN to be sure that everything is okay. Your physician will not test you for infertility, but this visit is to ensure that you have your annual pelvic exam which checks for cancer, STD's and your overall health. Ask your doctor about a time limit for the pregnancy to occur before starting infertility tests. Some doctors will say 1 year, some will say 6 months and depending on your age, some may say as little as 3 months.

Right now is a good time to practice proper nutrition. It is a good idea to have "daddy" on a proper nutrition diet as well, to ensure healthy sperm. Limit the intake of caffeine, and quit smoking, drinking alcohol and any drugs. During the process of trying to conceive, you will have about 2 weeks where you could be pregnant but may not know it yet.

Buy a basal body temperature thermometer. These come in either traditional glass or digital. Both are good. Learn the techniques of proper charting and begin this as soon as possible. This helps in two areas. First, you will know when and if you are ovulating. Second, you will know if you may possibly have an infertility problem. A doctor will appreciate at least 3 months of charts if you suspect an infertility problem - this will help them to come to a diagnosis sooner.

A quick run down of proper charting is to start taking the temperature the first day of your cycle. Have a good chart ready. You can find a copy on the Internet, in the back of fertility books, or in the box that the thermometer came in. Take your temperature first thing every morning - at the same time - before rising, moving, or speaking. Record this reading. The first half of your cycle, estrogen is the prominent hormone and will surge right before ovulation. Your temperatures will be in the low range - normally in the 96 -97 degree range. The day after ovulation, your temperature should rise between .2° and .4°. This is caused from the release of progesterone. This shift should stay high until either your next menstrual cycle begins (at which time your temperature will drop) or it will remain high if pregnancy is achieved.

There are ways to chart your cervical fluid and your cervix, as well, - if you so desire. See the articles in our fertility charting section for further instructions on how to properly do this.

If you know when you are ovulating, try to have intercourse for several days before ovulation, as well as the day of and a day or two after. Usually an egg will only live for 12 to 24 hours. Sperm can live up to 5 days in good quality cervical fluid. Drink lots of water. This will help to increase your cervical fluid. Also, start taking prenatal vitamins. The folic acid is very important to start taking before pregnancy occurs. This helps to eliminate neural tube defects with the baby. Ovulation predictor kits may be used to help pinpoint ovulation. Follow the instructions in the package to ensure their proper use. These can be expensive and are not necessary - if you desire to go ahead and try them.

Check on your insurance to see if maternity care is covered. If not, see about assistance with your state and check with your doctor and hospitals about cash charges. Most doctors and hospitals want the entire bill paid by the 7th month of pregnancy, so keep this in mind.

And last, but certainly not least - relax. Try to take this journey one day at a time and try not to obsess about it. With all three of my pregnancies, I conceived when I finally quit focusing on it so much. Armed with the above knowledge, you are well on your way to conceiving your dream!

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