Your Pregnancy: Pre-Conception
Now that you’ve decided you want to have a baby, it’s time to start keeping track of each of your periods, not only to know when you’re likely to be ovulating (and thus more fertile) but because once you’re pregnant, the date of your last period marks what doctors call “day #1″ of your pregnancy (even though your egg didn’t get fertilized until sometime after then). Doctors will use this date as the jumping off point for due-date predictions and trimester tracking because it’s easier to know the day you started your last period (referred to as the LMP) than to know the moment his sperm met your egg. Including two pre-conception weeks helps to explain why a nine-month pregnancy really stretches to almost 10.
And whether you’re pregnant yet or not, you can still prep for the future. First of all, see your doctor to check for medical issues that could inhibit you from becoming pregnant and to discuss options for any prescription medications you’re taking. And if you haven’t already, toss your birth control and replace it with prenatal vitamins with folic acid. (If you’re taking hormonal birth control like the Pill, patch or vaginal ring, talk to your practitioner because some recommend going through at least two cycles before trying to make a baby, while others say you can go for it immediately.)
Write down the date of your last period (and the one before that, if you remember).
Get a thorough checkup with your regular doctor and gynecologist. Make sure your immunizations are up-to-date and that you don’t have any medical conditions that need to clear up before pregnancy.
Make an appointment with your dentist for a good teeth cleaning and to have any dental work (like X-rays, fillings and surgery) completed before pregnancy.
Check both sides of your family tree for genetic or chromosomal disorders. It’s easier if you know your history ahead of time for conditions like Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, and fragile-X syndrome.
For tips on increasing your chances of getting pregnant, read our Conception To-Do List.
This should go without saying, but stop any potentially harmful activities (like smoking, drinking – you know the deal) and be conscious of healthy diet choices. While it’s a good idea to cut down on bad habits (like those four cups of coffee a day), this is also the last chance to indulge in your favorite soon-to-be forbidden foods. It might be a long time before you can eat a nice hunk of fresh mozzarella or a spicy yellowtail roll. Say your last goodbyes.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
This week should start with your period. The first day of flow is called ‘day #1′ and it’s helpful to know the day you started your last period too. To figure out how long after your period you are likely to ovulate, calculate the number of days between your last cycle and this one, and then subtract 14 days. I advise couples to start trying about five days before the likely day of ovulation and to keep trying until the day after presumed ovulation. This takes advantage of the ‘peak fertility’ days of a cycle.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.