There’s a full range of advice out there about trying to get pregnant—from proven medical research to old wives’ tales someone you know absolutely swears by.
Michelle Monson, MD, OB-GYN at Fairview Clinics – Elk River and Fairview Clinics – Maple Grove, helps us distinguish fact from fiction.
Countless factors can affect a woman’s pregnancy and her ability to become pregnant. Seeing your doctor before trying to conceive can help identify which ones can impact you—and what to do about it.
“A woman’s preconception check up with her doctor allows her to make changes that increase her chances of having a healthy pregnancy,” says Dr. Monson.
“Medications and supplements are reviewed, and medical conditions should be optimized. For example, women with diabetes should make sure their blood sugars are well controlled.”
Dr. Monson says women should take care to avoid infections and make sure their vaccinations are up to date. Given current concerns about Zika virus, women should also talk with their doctor about her and her partner’s recent and future travel plans.
A balanced diet and regular exercise isn’t just good for you, it’s good for a future baby.
“Certain lifestyle and health habits can affect fertility,” says Dr. Monson. “Conception rates are increased when a healthy weight is achieved.”
In addition to avoiding alcohol and tobacco, Dr. Monson also recommends folic acid supplements for all women of childbearing age, even when they are not planning to become pregnant.
Your partner’s activities are also important. Men should avoid activities that increase testicular heat—hot tubs, saunas, and biking—as these can impact his fertility. A healthy lifestyle for both partners has long-lasting effects.
“Being healthy is not only important to optimize health for you and your partner,” says Dr. Monson. “It will also help your baby be healthier at birth and for the rest of his or her life.”
When trying to get pregnant, not all days are created equal.
The days in your cycle where conception is most probable are on the day of ovulation and the day or two before ovulation. When is that for you?
“Ovulation typically occurs 14 days before the first day of the period in a 28 day cycle, or day 21 of a 35 day cycle,” says Dr. Monson. “Women can attempt to predict the time of ovulation by keeping a menstrual calendar, tracking changes in cervical mucous or by using an ovulation predictor kit.”
For couples trying to get pregnant, Dr. Monson recommends regular intercourse two to three times per week, beginning soon after menses stops. She also notes that, while most women get pregnant within six months of trying, it can take up to a year.
While she’s heard all sorts of wisdom about pregnancy that isn’t true, Dr. Monson wants to put one particular old wives’ tale to bed.
“Some women will try certain foods or other tactics to predetermine the baby’s gender,” says Dr. Monson. “Eating chocolate around the time of conception, for example, will not guarantee you will have a baby girl.”