So you are considering having a baby. All of your friends are posting all their maternity or new baby pictures on Facebook, and you decide it is time to start trying. It is a life changing decision and there are many things to consider. It is important that you realize that pregnancy does not happen right away for most couples. According to most research of couples actively attempting to obtain a pregnancy, only 20-25% will be successful each month. After 6 months of trying, only 80% will have obtained a pregnancy. Current recommendations state that if you have been trying for over a year without becoming pregnant that you should see your physician (with caveats for age). That being said, since you never know when it will happen here are a few things to consider.
First off, as soon as you start attempting to procreate, you should begin taking a prenatal vitamin. It is important that it contains at least 400mcg of Folic Acid, DHA, which is found in most prenatal vitamins is also recommended, but overall, most over the counter vitamins are basically the same. If you have questions you can always call or make an appointment with your physician.
Second, stop drinking alcohol immediately. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most common cause of mental retardation in the United States and no safe amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been established. If you smoke cigarettes while you are attempting to obtain pregnancy this is an excellent time to stop. Women who smoke tend to have a more difficult time becoming pregnant as well as a higher risk of never becoming pregnant than non-smokers. Smoking while pregnant carries many risks to you and your baby, and the fewer cigarettes you smoke a day, the lower that risk is. Risks of smoking during pregnancy include premature delivery or having a low birth rate baby. Smoking during and after pregnancy is a risk factor of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Third, if you are taking any medications regularly, you should have a discussion with your doctor about the safety of taking these during pregnancy, as well as the risks and benefits of stopping or continuing them. Do not stop medications simply because you are attempting pregnancy, always consult with your doctor first.
It is also very important to try and optimize all medical conditions. Poorly controlled blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, thyroid conditions, and many other medical conditions have adverse outcomes on pregnancy. Before attempting pregnancy do your best to get any medical conditions under optimal control. Doing so will help your pregnancy run more smoothly which will be better for both you and your future infant.
Of course, most importantly, if you have any questions or concerns always call your physician.