Making the decision to start a family comes with excitement, hope and probably a little anxiety. It’s no secret that the journey of parenthood is filled with new experiences that can be both wonderful and stressful. So, if you’re thinking about beginning that journey, you likely have questions about what you’ll encounter.
Here, then, is what to expect before you’re expecting.
Start taking a daily multivitamin that contains four milligrams or more of folic acid. This helps prevent certain birth defects. While some moms wait to start taking this vitamin until they’re pregnant, we advise moms start at least one month before they start trying to conceive.
Meet with Your Provider
Make an appointment with your primary care physician or OB/GYN to discuss conception. They’ll have advice and instructions on how you can be as healthy as possible for pregnancy, and discuss with you any potential medical issues like hypertension or gestational diabetes. They can also address any concerns you might have regarding diet, discuss with you what medications you can and can’t take, review your current prescriptions and make adjustments if necessary, and tell you what potential environmental toxins to avoid.
Your provider will also help you create a plan for your weight during pregnancy, if need be. Women who are under or overweight have a higher rate of infertility and complications are more likely.
As soon as you’re certain you want to conceive, stop taking your birth control. Most birth control tends to leave the system very quickly, but it’s best to wait until you have a normal menstrual cycle before you start trying.
The exception to this rule is Depo-Provera. This birth control can take up to a year to leave your system. If you’re currently taking this form of birth control, consider switching to another form for a few months before trying to conceive, to maximize your chances.
Maximize Your Mental Health
Pregnancy and the postpartum period are wonderful times of your life, but they can also be stressful and emotionally taxing. If you suffer from any mental health issues or have any concerns about the current state of your mental health, speak with your provider to address them before you begin trying to conceive.
Maximize Your Physical Health
To ensure a healthy conception, pregnancy and delivery, it’s best to give up smoking, all drugs (including marijuana) and alcohol. All have been shown to increase the risk for behavioral problems, small-for-gestational-age babies and preterm deliveries.
Talk with Your Partner
Finally, if you have a partner who is taking this journey with you, sit down and have a conversation. Not just about conception, but about pregnancy and parenting as well. Ensure you both are on the same page and have the same desires and expectations before you begin trying to conceive.
If you don’t currently have a provider, get feedback from friends and family to help select one that’s a good fit for you. To establish care at St. Luke’s, simply call 218.249.4000 and say “I want to establish care.”