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Experts agree that the best time for a woman to become pregnant is when she’s physically and emotionally ready, whether at 20, 30 or 40. But what is it like to be a mother at these different ages?
Trying to get pregnant? Sure, it can be fun. But, it can also be a trying time if you don't conceive right away. Our guide to getting pregnant tells you what you need to know to maximize your chances of conceiving. Here, you'll find information on everything from preparing your body for pregnancy, to calculating your most fertile days, to the best foods to aid ovulation.
6 Ways To Get Ready
"Many women don't know the most fertile time in their menstrual cycle," says Victoria Jennings, Ph.D., director of Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health. "Most think it's day 14, but ovulation doesn't always occur on the same day. It moves around, even in the same woman." Jennings says a normal woman's potential fertile days are days 8 through 19 of her cycle. (For a glow-in-the-dark bracelet to help you track when you're most fertile, go to cyclebeads.com.)
Weight loss can decrease your risk of gestational diabetes. If you were in your 20s, I would recommend that you try to lose weight before getting pregnant again. But since you are 35, my recommendation is to not delay conception by trying to lose weight first, as fertility decreases with age. You should consider consulting a registered dietitian about beginning a preconception nutritional program, as doing so may reduce your risk. Thirty minutes of daily exercise also should be incorporated into your routine, as research shows it can greatly reduce gestational diabetes risk.
Since you've experienced recurrent pregnancy loss--two or more consecutive miscarriages, most commonly in the first trimester--I'd suggest that you speak with your doctor about testing. If testing is indicated, an obstetrician is likely to first perform a karyotype, an evaluation of both partners' chromosomes, to determine if either of you has a genetic abnormality. If so, using a donor egg or sperm may circumvent the problem.
There is no need to stop or limit your workouts while awaiting the happy news. In fact, the only precaution I recommend is that you lie still for 30 to 45 minutes immediately after your IUI to help increase the chances of insemination and to counteract any cramping you might have (cramping is normal after any uterine manipulation). After that, you're good to go.
It will likely take several months for your body to resume ovulation and a normal menstrual cycle after stopping your oral contraceptives, which means you probably wont get pregnant right away. But even if you do conceive immediately after discontinuing your pills, the hormones will not be present in your body at a level that would be a problem for your baby.
Since you're breastfeeding, you should steer clear of all forms of birth control that contain estrogen, as it can reduce your milk supply. These include the combined-hormone pill, NuvaRing (a flexible ring that you insert into your vagina and keep there for three weeks) and Ortho Evra (the patch). If you prefer a hormone-based method, your better bets are progestin-only birth-control pills or Depo-Provera (shots given every 12 weeks), as they contain no estrogen.
My husband, Paul, and I launched Operation Procreation in perhaps the least romantic spot in the Southern Hemisphere: the windowless room of a $10-a-night hostel in Chile, decorated with faux oak paneling, brown industrial carpeting, a blinding overhead fluorescent light and, on the night table, a statue of the Virgin Mary. Paul was so creeped out by the stained, scratchy bed sheets that as I undressed, he disappeared, fully clothed, into his sleeping bag.
See your doctor several months before you want to conceive—and bring your partner. Doing so may help you prevent birth defects, pregnancy complications or prematurity, the March of Dimes reports.
Tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter drugs or herbal remedies that you are taking.
Begin taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid daily.
Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that women who adopted at least five healthy habits were 84 percent less likely to suffer infertility because of ovulation problems than women who followed none. Women were more likely to ovulate normally when they ate less trans fat and simple carbohydrates, such as white rice and white bread; got more protein from vegetables than from meat; ate more fiber and iron; took more multivitamins with folic acid; had a lower body mass index; and exercised daily. They also consumed more high-fat dairy products and fewer low-fat ones.
Neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida have declined 26 percent in the decade since federal officials required food manufacturers to begin supplementing grain products with folic acid, the synthetic form of folate. Consuming at least 400 micrograms of this B vitamin daily before conception and in the early weeks of pregnancy helps prevent the defects. To mark the 10th anniversary of the federal mandate, the March of Dimes and the Grain Foods Foundation teamed up to create a seal that helps consumers identify the fortified foods.