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Getting pregnant! Pre-planning and your most fertile days

Published 21st January 2021 | Dr Ujwala Parashar

Congratulations on your decision to have a baby and grow your family! One of the most exciting events of your life. Whether this is your first baby, or you have had children previously, getting your body ready for pregnancy with preconception health care will help you have a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby.

Check you have the basics right!

When planning a pregnancy, the best starting point is to see your doctor for an up-to-date health assessment.  This can be either your GP, or your obstetrician.

At your consultation, discuss your health history and your family medical history as well as any current medical issue including STDs or chronic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid, and cardiac disease. You should also discuss any previous full-term or failed pregnancies and prescribed medications you are using as well as any over the counter medications including dietary and herbal supplements.  

Prevention is important. 

There are several vaccinations you will need to ensure are up to date prior to becoming pregnant to prevent you catching some common infectious diseases. This is not only to keep you healthy, but to prevent your baby from being affected and to reduce the chance of birth defects. These include:

·       Influenza

·       Whooping cough (Pertussis)

·       Rubella (German measles)

·       Chicken pox (Varicella)

It is safe to have some vaccines during pregnancy including tetanus, hepatitis, influenza and travel vaccines and Dr Parashar will be able to discuss this with you at your consultation.

COVID 19 vaccination and pregnancy

Although the current available data does not indicate any concerns regarding safety or harm to pregnant women, there is not enough evidence yet regarding COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy. As the vaccines become more widely used, further data will become available and Dr Parashar will keep you updated on the latest recommendations at your pre-pregnancy consultation.

Lifestyle and behaviour modifications

Lifestyle modifications can play an important role in a health pregnancy and a healthy baby. Elimination of unhealthy practices  such as ceasing smoking, drinking alcohol, or using recreational drugs, and modifying or removal from a stressful or toxic environment are all key factors when planning a pregnancy. If you are having difficulty in implementing any changes that could have a negative impact of your pregnancy, Dr Parashar will be able to provide guidance on some different options and where to gain assistance.

Folic Acid – the pregnancy superhero!

Folic Acid is one of the most beneficial things available during pregnancy. If you are planning on becoming pregnant, you should commence taking 400 Micrograms of Folic Acid each day for at least one month prior to your pregnancy and continue with this dose throughout the first 3 months of your pregnancy; increasing the dosage range from month four to month nine of pregnancy and during breastfeeding from 0.4mg – 0.8mg. Dr Parashar will be able to advise on a suitable dose based on your individual needs. 

Focus on having a healthy, non-toxic environment.

Prior to, and during your pregnancy, avoid contact with harmful chemicals and toxic substances at home and in the workplace. These include:

·       Synthetic chemicals

·       Metals

·       Fertilisers

·       Insect repellents

·       Cat or rodent faeces

Toxic environments also include stressful mental environments or abusive relationships. If you are in a stressful work environment of a violent relationship, seek help.

Become a healthy weight – and maintain it!

Women who are overweight or obese have a much higher risk factor for serious health conditions as well as complications during pregnancy, and women who are underweight are also at risk. Commit to a lifestyle that includes healthy, mindful eating and regular exercise. This not only benefits you during your pregnancy, but throughout your life and will teach your developing child good habits for a healthy childhood and adulthood. If you are over or under weight, talk to our team about programs to help you achieve a healthy weight before you become pregnant.

Stay calm….. and have a healthy mindset!

Our mental health is a key factor in how we deal with life as well as our physical well-being. Eating well, regular exercise and taking time out to enjoy life, friends and family will help to keep you happy and healthy during pregnancy and beyond. Make sure you take time out to smell the roses, relax, and savour all your good moments.

Find out when your fertile

The most fertile days for women are the three days leading up to and including the day of ovulation. This is known as the “fertile window” of the menstrual cycle and knowing when you ovulate can help you to improve your chance of getting pregnant.

There are a few methods to calculate when you are ovulating:

Work out the length of your menstrual cycle.

To do this, record the first day of your period (day 1). The last day of your cycle is the day prior to the commencement of your next period. Once you know the average length of your menstrual cycle, you can calculate when you ovulate, which is around 14 days before the start of your period. 

For example:

·       Your average menstrual cycle is 28 days, you ovulate around day 14 and your most fertile days are 12 ,13 and 14.

Some women have very irregular cycles and can find it difficult to keep track of their ovulation, but there are many apps available on smart phones and watches to assist with this, and ovulation predictor kits to test for signs of ovulation are readily available from pharmacies and supermarkets. But if it is all too hard, don’t worry! Having sex every 2-3 days will cover all cycle times and improve your chances of conceiving.

Be prepared, relax, and enjoy!

Pregnancy is one of the most joyful times of life, and pre-planning is a positive step that will help ensure you have a healthy, happy, and safe pregnancy and will also give your baby a great start as part of your new life together.

If you would like professional assistance on how to best plan for your pregnancy, please call us to arrange for a consultation with Dr Parashar on phone 1300 811827 to get you started on your journey.

Dr Ujwala Parashar, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Sam Samant

Dr Ujwala Parashar is a highly trained female obstetrician and gynaecologist with over 12 years of experience, practicing in Sydney's North Shore and Barangaroo. If you would like more information on conception, or if you are seeking obstetric options and advice, please contact us or call 1300 811 827 to arrange a consultation with her.