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What You Should Do Before Trying to Get Pregnant
By Daniel Casciato

Marianne WizdaAre you thinking of starting a family? Or even adding to it?

The rate of getting pregnant during each cycle is about 20 percent, according to obstetrician-gynecologist Marianne Wizda, M.D., from WHS Washington Health System OB/GYN Care.

“Most people will get pregnant within a year,” she says. “If you have difficulty getting pregnant during that time, you should see your gynecologist and get examined to see if there are specific reasons why you are not getting pregnant.” 

There are some ways you can increase your chances of getting pregnant. Dr. Wizda recommends the following eight things you can do to take care of yourself so you can experience a healthy pregnancy.

1. Take Folic Acid
About three months before trying to get pregnant, begin taking 0.4 milligrams of folic acid, recommends Dr. Wizda.

“That can be taken as part of a prenatal vitamin, multivitamin or straight folic acid,” she says. “Folic acid helps prevent neural-tube defects such as spina bifida.”

2. Get Caught Up on Vaccinations
One thing that your physician will check is if you are still immune to rubella, or German measles.

“That’s a live vaccine so if you need to be re-vaccinated, you’ll have to wait three months before trying to get pregnant,” says Dr. Wizda. “You don’t want to get rubella while you are pregnant.”

If you never had chicken pox, it’s important to get vaccinated as well.

“We also recommend flu shots for everyone, either before or during your pregnancy,” Dr. Wizda adds.

3. Pay Attention to Irregular Periods
If you’re experiencing any irregular periods, talk to your gynecologist.

“You might not be ovulating on a regular basis and you could be wasting that time if you’re not releasing eggs,” says Dr. Wizda.

4. Consider Genetic Testing
Any woman over the age of 35 years old should get a genetic test because of increased risk of chromosome problems such as Down Syndrome.

“It’s a good idea to have a discussion with your partner before pregnancy of how you feel about genetic testing and what kind of tests you would like to do,” says Dr. Wizda. “You’ll have to discuss what you would do with the results. This is a more of an ethical question.”

5. Eat Healthy
Make better choices in the types of food you plan to eat. Aim for about two cups of fruit and two cups of vegetables per day. Also, try to eat a variety of protein such as beans, nuts, poultry and meats.

6. Adjust Medications
The most common medical conditions Dr. Wizda sees are diabetes, high blood pressure, and seizure disorders.

“Make sure these conditions are under good control before you try to get pregnant,” says Dr. Wizda. “Oftentimes, it’s a matter of just making medication changes. Talk to your physician if you have any of these medical conditions.”

7. Avoid Smoking, Drinking and Drugs
Stop smoking, don’t do drugs and limit your alcohol intake if you want a healthy baby.

“We don’t know what a safe level of alcohol is so we actually don’t recommend any alcohol,” says Dr. Wizda.

8. Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Try to limit caffeinated beverages or food containing caffeine to one to two servings per day at the most.

“Most women who become pregnant experience nausea and lose their taste for things such as coffee anyway so it’s not usually an issue,” says Dr. Wizda.

For more information, visit whs.org/obgyn.

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