Genetics & IVF Institute Suggests Ten Things to Do Now If You Want to Have a Baby in 2012

[title]

1. Find out exactly what your health insurance covers. Will your insurance cover all or part of the medical costs of a fertility assessment (for both partners), fertility treatment (if you need it), pregnancy, delivery and infant health care? Talk to the benefit expert at work, call your insurance carrier and/or read your policy. If your coverage is not adequate, try to get additional coverage before you need it.

2. Explore your options for taking time off for medical appointments before the baby arrives and for parental leave after delivery. If you are married or have a partner, check out leave options for both of you. Some couples take serial leave—first one and then the other—to provide care for an infant. Look at everything available to you: medical leave, parental leave, vacation time, unpaid leave, etc., to make a plan. You might find that skipping a few days of vacation before you conceive will allow you to spend more time with your new baby later.

3. Get a physical. If you have been trying to get pregnant but haven't succeeded yet, both potential parents should consider getting a fertility assessment. Men and women are equally likely to suffer infertility. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, approximately 6.1 million women and their partners in the US are affected by infertility, i.e., 10 percent of the total reproductive-age population.

4. Improve your overall health. Consider your Body Mass Index (BMI). Being in good shape and good health will improve your likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.  Obese women may have difficulty conceiving and they are at risk for weight-related complications during pregnancy, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Underweight women may have irregular cycles or stop ovulating all together.   Your weight does not have to be perfect. Sometimes just a 5- to 10-percent weight reduction (or increase if you are underweight) makes a significant difference when trying to conceive. If you smoke, quit before you become pregnant. Smoking during pregnancy is linked to miscarriage and to low birth weight for babies.

5. Consider your space.  Do you have space in your current home for a nursery?  Will a crib, changing table and all of the other equipment babies need crowd your current abode? Should you consider rearranging your space to make room for baby?  Or should you move?

6. Stop taking birth control pills at least two months before you want to become pregnant.  Since birth control pills affect your hormones, quit taking the pills to allow your body time to readjust. You can switch to another form of birth control until you are ready to try for a pregnancy.

7. Take folic acid pills. Folic acid helps to prevent neural defects in developing babies, even in the very early stages of pregnancy. Start taking the pills as soon as you decide it is time to become pregnant—don't wait for a positive pregnancy test. Prenatal vitamins contain folic acid.

8. When you are ready to get pregnant, make sure you are having sex at the "right time of the month." The greatest chance for pregnancy is when intercourse occurs one to two days prior to ovulation and the day of ovulation. Additionally, optimal semen quality is obtained after 2-3 days without ejaculation. Therefore, it is generally recommended to have intercourse every 2-3 days after your menstrual period has stopped.  Other more precise methods include tracking the changes in cervical mucous (increased production of slippery clear mucous is associated with ovulation) and use of over the counter urinary LH-detection kits which can more precisely predict the actual day of ovulation.

9. Talk to your doctor about any medications, vitamins or herbal supplements you take.  Many medications (including some used to treat depression, high blood pressure and other common conditions) and over the counter supplements can be harmful to a developing fetus. Find out now if you need to change your medication or supplement regimen.

10. Get expert diagnosis and treatment if you have difficulty conceiving.  If you are a woman under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for over a year or you are over 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for six months, consult a fertility specialist who can diagnose and treat you.  85- to 90- percent of infertility cases can be successfully treated.  Reproductive endocrinologists are ob-gyns with specialized training in diagnosing and treatment infertility.

For more information on the Genetics & IVF Institute, click here.