Absolutely. Experts agree that this B vitamin reduces the risk of neural-tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida, and new research suggests it may also reduce the risk of cleft lip and cleft palate. Where they differ is in how much women need. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women who could become pregnant or are trying to conceive take 0.4 milligram (400 micrograms) daily.
Get a second opinion. While some experts believe uterine fibroids, which are noncancerous tumors, do not cause miscarriage, others say they can. “The key is a fibroid’s location and size,” says William P. Hummel, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist specializing in miscarriage at the San Diego Fertility Center. The closer it is to the center of the uterus, where a fetus is likely to implant, the more likely it is to cause problems.
Think "fertility problem," and most people assume there's something wrong with the female half of the conception equation. In fact, when couples are having trouble making a baby, what's known as "male factor" is responsible an estimated 40 percent of the time. Here's what a guy can do—and what he should avoid doing—to maximize his chances of making plenty of hardy, healthy, fast-swimming sperm.
It was a windy, rainy day. It wasn't the kind of rain you could venture out in for an afternoon puddle-jumping excursion with two little girls. And that sent my preschool daughter, Julia, on a tirade. First came the pleading and whining. "Please, please, please, please can't we go outside?" Then came the screeching demand. "I want to go outside!" Then she launched the mother-of-all-fits on the floor—arms flailing, legs kicking, and even a last minute head-butt thrown in for dramatic effect.
My husband is watching the first season of the cable show Mad Men on DVD. He tells me, "One of the characters went into labor and didn't know she was pregnant. I knew this was coming four episodes ago when they started mentioning how fat she was getting." That happens a lot on TV—women get a stomachache, rush to the ER and are told to push. Not so much in real life. Sure, I've had a couple patients over the years who really didn't know they were pregnant until they landed in labor and delivery.
A 26-year-old reader (who didn't include her name) is thinking about aiming for a pregnancy early next year. She has a lot of questions about how to go about this. I know what you're thinking: "have sex, duh—end of story." Not so fast. Unlike the gajillion of us who just plain ol' get pregnant, knocked up or caught by surprise in the family way, this reader is being very thoughtful about it.
Susan's working on number two. She's a runner. I've written about this breed before. Just a few weeks ago Kelly, another runner, was having problems with first trimester spotting and despite her dedication to keeping her baby safe, not running was driving her nuts. My husband's a runner too. Personally, I don't have the runner-thing going on but having lived with one for a long time, I get it. They have to run.
It's never too early to plan on being a good parent. It's the stuff of many little girls' games, dreams and lifetime goals. Many little boys too, I imagine, but in my house, it's always the girls who play the mommy/baby game. Here's how it goes:
Girl 1: "I'll be the mommy and you be the baby."
Girl 2: "No, I want to be the mommy, this time. You always get to be the mommy."
Girl 1: "Well, you can't be the mommy because, I am. You can be the daddy if you want to. That's pretty good."
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re not pregnant yet but would like to be soon. For approximately 85 percent of American couples, conception happens fairly easily, and we hope you’re among them. During the times in your life when you’re trying not to have a baby, you know that having unprotected sex just once can result in pregnancy. But the truth is, conception doesn’t happen quite as quickly as you may think, particularly when you’re 35 or older.
Jan Abraham became pregnant easily with her daughter Jordana. But it was a different story when she and her husband, David, tried to conceive a second time.
“My husband and I were dismayed when I couldn’t get pregnant again,” Abraham says. “I knew I had to act quickly since I was 37 and we had been trying for almost a year, so we went to see a fertility specialist.
Pregnancy often is planned around certain benchmarks. Establish a career. Find the inner you. Marry Mr. Right. Lose those extra 5 pounds. Floss more. Put ovaries on alert. (Read: Sperm incoming . . . go, girl!)
Of course, the ducks line up at different ages for different women, making the ideal time for motherhood as individual as DNA. Yet mostly, motherhood is motherhood, as any bleary-eyed mom worth her weight in spit-up and dirty diapers will attest. Still, pregnancy in the 20s, 30s and 40s comes with specific advantages and disadvantages.
Before my first pregnancy, I enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner and an occasional big, juicy chili dog. But even in those very first days after I conceived, the wine tasted flat and the hot dog repulsed me. Fast-forward a few weeks. With a positive pregnancy test in hand, I realized that my body knew I was pregnant before my mind did. Of course, the earliest symptoms of pregnancy wax and wane and are different for each woman; in fact, some women may experience (or notice) none of them. But several can crop up well before you even miss a period.