What to Expect Before You’re Expecting…

From Wiles and the CDC!


Did you know that about 10 % of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15–44 years have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant?

In our 20’s, many of us are more interested in birth control and STD prevention than we are in getting pregnant.  In our 30’s, those biological clocks begin ticking and, if we haven’t already done so, we’re beginning to seriously make plans for having a family. By the time we reach our 40’s, we may be wondering if it’s too late and we look to methods like in vitro fertilization and surrogacy.

Preconception health refers to the health and men and women during their reproductive years.  But how many of us know that it’s a health concern that we often neglect until, well, we’re ready?


Photo Credit: Guardian


The Center for Disease Control and the National Women’s Health Center offer some great advice and for women to follow now to protect the health of the babies we may have in the future.  Here are some helpful tips we found especially useful:

  1.  Get Healthy! Both men and women can benefit from paying close to attention to their preconception health because, at its core, preconception health is about overall health.  Being overweight or underweight can also contribute to a woman’s infertility.  And did you know that, in the United States, almost half of all pregnancies are “unplanned?” So why not just get healthy and stay there?!
  2.  Understand you monthly fertility pattern—Understanding your monthly fertility pattern can help you plan to get pregnant or avoid getting pregnant. Your fertility pattern is the number of days in the month when you are fertile (able to get pregnant), days when you are infertile, and days when fertility is unlikely, but possible. If you have a regular menstrual cycle, you have about nine or more fertile days each month.
  3.  Infertility is NOT just a woman’s problem!  About one-third of infertility cases are caused by women’s problems. Another one third of fertility problems are due to the man. The other cases are caused by a mixture of male and female problems or by unknown problems.  While problems with ovulation, blocked fallopian tubes and uterine fibroids are typical causes for a woman’s infertility, heavy alcohol use, drug use, and smoking can all negatively impact a man’s sperm count.  Before you try to conceive, a doctor’s visit may be in order for both of you!
  4.  Age is more than just a number.  About 20% of women in the United States now have their first child after age 35 and about one-third of couples in which the woman is older than 35 years have fertility problems. Aging decreases a woman’s chances of having a baby because the ovaries become less able to release eggs, she has a smaller number of healthy eggs she is more likely to have health conditions that can cause fertility problems, and she is more likely to have a miscarriage. If you’re over 35 and you’re having trouble conceiving, consult your doctor within 6 months for a thorough exam and to discuss your options.
  5.  Make a plan and take action!  You don’t hop in your car for a road trip without a map or GPS, so do your homework, set goals and get your body ready ahead of time.  Consider your career and what impact having a child will have. Consider what resources you have for day care. Think about when and under what conditions you want to become pregnant.  If you have unhealthy habits or a lifestyle that will put your pregnancy at-risk, make the necessary changes to protect your and your baby’s health.  Try to include as many details as possible in your plan. Some people find it helpful to write their plan down on a piece of paper or in a journal. Be sure to talk with your health care professionals. Doctors and counselors can help you make your plan and achieve your goals.
  6.  Take 400 Micrograms of Folic Acid Every Day! Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least 1 month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.
  7.  Learn Your Family History – Collecting your family’s health history can be important for your child’s health. You might not realize that your sister’s heart defect or your cousin’s sickle cell disease could affect your child, but sharing this family history information with your doctor can be important.
  8.  Get your head right! Mental health is how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. To be at your best, you need to feel good about your life and value yourself. Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad, or stressed sometimes. However, if these feelings do not go away and they interfere with your daily life, get help. Talk with your doctor or another health professional about your feelings and treatment options.  Remember, you’ll be a parent LONG after you stop being pregnant, so make sure you’re mentally and emotionally ready for the responsibility.

For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at:


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