What you need to know about getting pregnant. Even if you're not planning on getting pregnant any time soon, you might want to consider learning a little more about science of baby-making. New research shows that a startling number of reproductive-age women still need to be clued-in about the basics of reproductive health. A study published in the January 27 issue of Fertility and Sterility found that about 50 percent of reproductive-age women had never discussed their reproductive health with a medical provider and about 30 percent visited their reproductive health provider less than once a year or never.
The research includes the following major findings about women's understanding of fertility and pregnancy:
- Forty percent of the reproductive-age women surveyed expressed concern about their ability to conceive.
- Half were unaware that multivitamins with folic acid are recommended to reproductive-age women to prevent birth defects.
- More than 25 percent were unaware of the adverse implications of sexually transmitted infections, obesity, smoking, or irregular menses on fertility.
- One-fifth were unaware of the adverse effects of ageing on reproductive success, including increased miscarriage rates, chromosomal abnormalities, and increased length of time to achieve conception.
- Half of respondents believe that having sex more than once a day will increase chances of conception.
- More than one-third of women believed that specific sexual positions can increase chances of conception.
-Only 10 percent of women were aware that sexual interaction should happen before ovulation, not after, to improve chances of conception.
As more women delay pregnancy until later in life, it's important to get the facts early on so your body is ready for baby when you finally do decide you want one. "Preparing yourself now helps you conceive faster, have a healthier pregnancy and an easier delivery, and makes you a healthier person overall," says Sheryl Ross, M.D., an ob-gyn at Saint John's Health Center.
"The most important thing you can do for both yourself and any future children is to be your healthiest self now." So if you think you want to have a child at some point-whether in nine months or in 10 years-our experts have some essential tips to help you prime your bod for baby.
If you want a baby...
Schedule pre-baby gyno appointment. When you're pregnant, not only will you grow an entire human being inside of you, but you'll also double your blood volume, sprout an extra organ, and have your hormones sky-rocket to the highest levels they will ever be in your lifetime.
That takes a lot of preparation, both physically and mentally. Talk with your doc about your medical history, in case you need certain genetic or blood tests before trying to conceive. You should also talk about any medications you may be taking, such as anti-depressants, since some are not safe to take during pregnancy and you need to wean off them slowly.
"It's so important to really know and understand your own menstrual cycle," Ross says. You should learn how to tell when you're ovulating based on cervical mucous, body temperature, and timing; the length of your cycle; and what a "normal" cycle feels like to you. She recommends the Maybe Baby app to help you keep track of all those stats.
"Cultivate a network of other mothers during pregnancy and beyond for support, babysitting, and friendship," says Danine Fruge, M.D., women's health expert and associate medical director.
Emerging research suggests a man's health can affect the quality of his sperm and the health of his child. "He needs to eat healthy and give up smoking, especially weed," Ross says, adding that marijuana affects both the motility and quality of a man's sperm.
Many women start pregnancy with insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) and then develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
This can cause delivery complications, a higher risk of emergency delivery and C-sections, prolonged hospitalization, and a higher risk of your child developing diabetes and even heart disease at a young age.
So if your blood tests come back showing high levels of blood glucose, if you have already been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, or if gestational diabetes runs in your family, talk to your doctor about how to safely get it under control.
If you're trying to get pregnant and it doesn't happen right away, it's easy to get stressed out...which may further hinder your odds of getting knocked up.
In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility, researchers found that when a woman is more stressed, her likelihood to conceive that month is "significantly reduced."
But when women reduced stress in their lives, their fertility returned to normal levels expected for their age.
"True infertility is relatively rare, only affecting about 10 percent of women," Ross says.
"Most women take between three and six months to get pregnant."
But if you've reduced your stress and have been trying for more than six months with no luck, Ross says to check in with your doctor.
- Healthy Living