Almost every woman has at one point in time asked themselves “do I want to have children?” While the answer is not always yes, for those that do answer in the affirmative, another question follows: “what should I do when the time comes?”
While there are many lists of dos, Dr. Elizabeth Mlynarczyk, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, recommends nine things not to do if you want to get pregnant.
- Lose or gain a lot of weight. Being overweight increases your risk for having a miscarriage, gestational diabetes or even preeclampsia. Being underweight, on the other hand, can cause irregular menstrual cycles which could lead to your ovaries not releasing an egg, a necessary part of making a baby. The goal is to have a healthy weight before and during pregnancy, she says.
- Put it off too long. Although it is completely reasonable to start a family a little later in life, men and women in their late thirties are a little less than half as fertile as they were in their early twenties. Dr. Mlynarczyk advises talking with a doctor about your odds of conceiving so you are not caught off guard when the time comes.
- Wait until you miss your period to stop drinking. More than half of pregnancies are unplanned, so if you are considering having kids, you should stop drinking immediately. Alcohol can affect your baby at every stage of pregnancy, even in the very first weeks.
- Smoke. As bad as alcohol is for the baby, tobacco is even worse. Smoking can cause miscarriages or pregnancy outside of the womb. Smoking can also cause damage to your ovaries and changes to your fallopian tubes and cervix, which can greatly reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
- Double up on vitamins. Taking a prenatal vitamin everyday can help prevent birth defects, but taking more than the recommended amount may them. If you can’t remember if you took your vitamin each day, it’s better to skip the day than risk overdosing.
- Stop taking your meds. You might think you need to stop taking all medications before you get pregnant, but that is not always the case. In fact, it could be dangerous for you and the baby. Always consult your doctor before stopping or lowering your dosage.
- Skip vaccines. If you are planning to become a mother, you will need to be up-to-date on all your vaccines at least one month before you plan to conceive. Certain diseases can cause birth defects in the baby if you get them while pregnant.
- Travel to Zika virus territories. The Zika virus, which is caused by a bite from a mosquito, can cause serious birth defects and can easily be transmitted from mother to fetus.
- Neglect adequate sleep. An odd sleep schedule can throw off your menstrual cycle, which make getting pregnant fast much more difficult.
By following these nine don’ts before trying to conceive, you are improving your odds of a healthy baby, says Dr. Mlynarczyk. The early weeks of pregnancy are the most crucial, and it is always better to be safe when it comes to protecting your baby.