12 Things to Do Before You Get Pregnant
Your Likelihood of Getting Pregnant
Choosing to start a family is a big decision, especially today. Many people are waiting until their pregnancy plans align with their career and life goals. If you have decided the time is right and you’re ready to conceive, remember that every pregnancy journey is different. For some couples, getting pregnant is quick and easy. For others, it can take some time. On average, healthy couples in their 20s to their early 30s have about a 25 to 30 percent chance of getting pregnant each month, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.1 Though that number may seem low, over a year that means your chances of conceiving are about 75 to 85 percent. Most people get pregnant within a year of trying.
How to Plan for a Pregnancy
Getting pregnant can seem overwhelming. When you’re ready to conceive, talking with your healthcare practitioner (such as an ob-gyn or primary care physician) can help you determine the right steps for your pregnancy and lifestyle. Trying to conceive typically causes women to evaluate their lifestyles and make changes to support their health and the health of their baby. Let’s explore some top wellness tips for this unique time in your life.
Things to Do While Trying to Conceive:
1. Schedule a Pre-Conception Visit
What are your pregnancy goals? How many children do you want to have? How soon would you like to get pregnant? These are questions to consider when visiting your gynecologist for a pre-conception appointment. During a pre-conception visit, you and your healthcare provider will discuss your pregnancy goals, medical history, supplements, and mental health, among other important topics. Many medical conditions and mental health issues can potentially affect pregnancy. Try to give your doctor as much information as you can, to help plan the smoothest pregnancy possible.
2. Take Folic Acid
Before getting pregnant, start dialing in your nutrition by taking a prenatal multivitamin or folic acid supplement. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is needed for the development and growth of the fetus.2 In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women of reproductive age regularly take a prenatal.3 Why? Having enough folate is critical during the first month of the baby’s development when the neural tube (which later becomes the spinal cord and brain) begins to grow. Your baby could need the extra nutrients before you even realize you’re pregnant!
3. Start Eating Healthier Foods
Taking care of your overall wellness can set up you for healthy pregnancy and improve your chances of conception. Although there is no perfect prenatal diet, if you are trying to conceive, make sure you get plenty of fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins. Look for foods that have the essential nutrients all new moms need. Your baby needs extra calcium for strong bones and teeth, so stock up on foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as lean salmon. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach are sources of natural folate, that crucial B vitamin necessary for your baby’s neural development.
4. Follow an Exercise Plan
Regular physical activity can help your body be better prepared for the physical changes that come with pregnancy. It also helps develop good habits for exercise throughout your pregnancy. If you haven’t exercised regularly before, start slowly. Try gentle activities such as walking, yoga, and Pilates. Regular exercise during pregnancy is not dangerous for the baby but do try to avoid strenuous exercise and contact sports.
5. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Weight is an important factor to consider when deciding to get pregnant. According to the Office on Women’s Health, women who are either overweight or underweight often have difficulty conceiving.4 In underweight women, the lack of nutrients in their bodies may affect or prevent ovulation, which is key to getting pregnant. On the other hand, overweight women may experience hormonal imbalances caused by the release of estrogen from fat cells. This can disrupt ovulation and prevent fertility treatments from working. Reaching a healthy weight can improve your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. Doing gentle exercises and following healthy eating patterns can help you maintain a healthy body weight, which can both improve your chances of conception and reduce chances of complications during pregnancy and labor.
6. Check Your Family Tree
It’s a great idea to get up to date on your family’s medical history before getting pregnant. Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid disease can be passed down through genetics and affect your ability to get pregnant. Other genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell disease have been shown to negatively impact fertility. Fertility issues caused by genetic conditions can sometimes be treated through in vitro fertilization (IVF).5 Reviewing this type of information with your healthcare provider can be part of your pre-conception visit.
7. Review Your Medications
During your pre-conception visit and later appointments, talk to your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking. Many women take prescription medication. Some birth defects have been attributed to anti-seizure medications for conditions such as epilepsy.6 Ask your doctor if it is okay to continue your prescription during pregnancy and discuss potential risks. According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnancy can change the effectiveness of certain medications.7
8. Start Saving Money
Having a baby can be expensive! Before getting pregnant, start setting aside funds. Some of the expenses you may encounter include medical testing, doctor appointments, prenatal vitamins, and ultrasounds. Care during labor and delivery can also be expensive, although the cost of delivering a baby depends on your insurance and where you live. See what your insurance covers so there won’t be any surprises.
9. Pay Attention to Your Mental Health
Pregnancy can be a stressful time for women, especially first-time moms. Studies conducted by National Institutes of Health show that stress can negatively impact your ability to get pregnant and can pose health challenges throughout your pregnancy.8 So do pay attention to your mental health. Is your job or personal life causing you added stress or anxiety? If so, find ways to manage stress and practice good self-care. Take time to talk to a mental health professional if you need to.
10. Stay Away from Germs
A healthy mom can help to ensure a healthy pregnancy. The best way to avoid risks during this unique time is to do your best to stay healthy! Check in with your healthcare provider to make sure you are up to date on vaccines for any current viruses. Exercise regularly, eat well, and avoid sick family members or friends. For daily care, follow easy sanitizing protocols like washing hands, not touching your face, and wearing a facemask when required.
11. Figure Out When You Ovulate
Understanding ovulation is key to getting pregnant. Knowing when you ovulate and having sex regularly before ovulation can improve your odds of conceiving.
Ovulation is when the ovary releases an egg to be fertilized. According to the Office on Women’s Health, you are most likely to get pregnant if you have sex 3 days before and up to the day of ovulation.9 This is because sperm can live in the body for up to 3 to 5 days after having sex.
Tracking your menstrual cycle can help you better understand your fertility, since every woman’s cycle is different. Ovulation typically occurs 12-16 days before the next period starts. It’s hard to pinpoint ovulation without additional help.
Ovulation tests can help you get a more exact understanding of when you ovulate. Our Advanced Digital Ovulation Test tracks 2 key fertility hormones to identify your High AND Peak fertility days, so you can plan ahead and have more opportunities to try and get pregnant.
12. Things to Stop
When you are ready to conceive, stop using contraceptive measures such as condoms, diaphragms, and birth control medication. If you’re stopping a prescription or IUD, visit your healthcare practitioner. The March of Dimes also suggest to stop smoking, drinking alcohol, or abusing street or prescription drugs.10 Also talk to your doctor about other limitations they may recommend (caffeine, high mercury content seafood, etc.).
What Affects Your Fertility?
Many factors affect your ability to get pregnant, including age, weight, health, and other lifestyle factors.
Now more than ever, young couples are choosing to focus on self-development first and are waiting longer to start a family. A study by the CDC shows that in 2015, birth rates declined for women in their 20s but increased for women in their 30s and early 40s.11 While there is no perfect age for giving birth, reproductive health changes with age. Women younger than 30 have about a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month but this drops to about 5% at age 40.12
Above all, be compassionate with yourself. This time that comes before pregnancy and before baby is so unique. No matter what stage of your journey you're in, we're there with you!
Looking for insights on your health journey? Clearblue® sends you curated, science-backed articles right to your inbox.
- Women’s Health – Evaluating Infertility – ACOG (acog.org)
- Folic Acid supplementation and pregnancy: more than just neural tube defect prevention - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Prenatal Vitamins – Why they matter, how to choose – Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org)
- Weight, fertility, and pregnancy | womenshealth.gov
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - Brigham and Women's Hospital
- Epilepsy and Pregnancy – What you need to know – Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org)
- Medication and Pregnancy :: American Pregnancy Association
- Effects of prenatal stress on pregnancy and human development: mechanisms and pathways (nih.gov)
- Your menstrual cycle | womenshealth.gov
- Getting ready for pregnancy: Preconception health (marchofdimes.org)
- National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 66, Number 1, January 5, 2017 (cdc.gov)
- Do you want to have KIDS in the future? | Clearblue