Preconception and TTC Countdown!
What to Consider Before You Even Try to Become Pregnant
Most of Ovulation-Calculator.com is dedicated to methods of fertility charting to help you conceive a healthy baby sooner. We have questions and answers on ovulation, your menstrual cycle, and bbt charting, and FAQs on ovulation testing and monitoring fertility.
But what about the countdown to simply trying to conceive? Yes, there are things to consider to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and betters odds of conceiving. So before baby names or fertility monitors, let's take a look at some TTC Countdown Questions:
Well, What's the Point of a TTC Countdown?
The point is your baby's health. Fertilization and pregnancy typically takes place two weeks or more before your period. Many drugstore pregnancy tests will not show a positive until days after a missed period - and often pregnancy symptoms don't show up for a long while. Hence, you may be pregnant for several weeks before you even find out! That's why planning ahead is a good idea. Bad habits should stop well before you start even trying to conceive. If you drink alcohol or smoke, you can cause harm to your baby - particularly in early pregnancy when organs begin to form. Pretend you are pregnant before your ttc pregnancy campaign even beings. Let's look at a few more details....
Start Eating for Two, Nutritionally-Speaking
TTC is time of self-awareness and self-care. Nasty junk foods, fast foods, processed foods, preservatives, chemicals, pops and sweetened sodas, all that stuff that may taste good and is convenient when you are on the run... Well, now is the time to drop those habits, turn over a new leaf - and starting eating more green leafy foods (ideally, from the organic department in your grocery store). A healthy and balanced TTC diet is key to your future baby's health, and will also help your odds of conceiving that baby sooner.
Talk to your doctor about a preconception diet, one rich in vegetables, fruits, and other nutritious offerings. Balance is key. In addition, start avoiding certain foods that might be bad for you and your baby - namely predatory fish like swordfish or certain species of tuna which may be high in mercury. By all means, avoid foods like raw or undercooked red meats, poultry, or eggs.
Also, watch your supplement intake. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, particularly if you are ingesting high amounts of vitamin A. If you are taking a prenatal supplement (a good idea), make sure that the vitamin A is 100% beta carotene (and not a vitamin A precursor). Pregnancy Plus Prenatal is a great choice.
Prenatal Vitamins and Folic Acid
On the topic of prenatal vitamins, yes, you should consider taking a prenatal before you are pregnant. A prenatal vitamin with folic acid can reduce the risk of certain birth defects. Fertility supplements like FertilAid also contain a health does of folic acid (over 600mcg). Women require a minimum of 400mcg of folic acid per day, and this goes for when you are TTC. In addition, a balanced TTC diet with green, leafy vegetables can also provide folic acid and a solid nutritional platform.
NOTE: If you are taking prescription drugs (for anything - from asthma to depression) or herbal remedies, tell to your health care provider that you are planning to get pregnant and make sure there are no risks to your baby.
Exercise and Weight: Is it a Big Deal?
As noted above, good habits should begin now, in the pregnancy planning phase. First of all, if you are overweight, you may risk complications during pregnancy. Health and comfort are issues here, all the way up to an easier delivery. In addition, being overweight or underweight can affect your balance of reproductive hormones and cause cycle irregularity or irregular ovulation. In some cases, hormonal issues associated with weight-factors may even inhibit ovulation entirely or increase your timetable for conceiving.
Exercise is, of course, an important cornerstone of preconception and pregnancy health. Stay fit and talk to your doctor regarding a TTC and pregnancy exercise regimen. But once you conceive, take care to balance your exercise regimen - perhaps geared for walking rather than marathons. Walking every day is good exercise. If you are concerned about preconception and weight issues, talk to your doctor or nutritionist. Talk to your doctor about a good exercise agenda as well.
When Do I Need to Clean Up My Act?
If you are asking yourself this question on this website, the answer is yesterday. Tobacco, alcohol or drugs do not mix with pregnancy, as you know, but they also do not mix if you are planning to have a baby in the near future. As noted above, you may be 3 weeks pregnant before you detect your first pregnancy symptom. Drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes can inflict harm on your developing baby and can increase the odds of both miscarriage and birth defects. There's no room to move on this one: Quit today.
Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke: Smoking can increase the odds of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and other complication. Second-hand smoke and pregnancy do not mix either. Clear the environment of tobacco and make your body - and your home - baby safe.
Alcohol. We all know that alcohol and pregnancy do not mix. Same with preconception. If you are TTC, take alcohol off the table. Drinking can cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)
Toxoplasmosis and Kitty Litter
I love cats. However, kitty litter and pregnancy is another more curious no-no for trying to conceive women. The reason is due to a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a disease that can be spread through the feline dropping. Toxoplasmosis is not typically an issue for adults or children, though it can to cause birth defects. Toxoplasmosis is also communicable by gardening around soil where a cat has done his or her business. It can also be caught by eating raw or undercooked red meat.
Pregnancy, Hot Tubs, and Household Hazardous Waste
Hot tubs and toxic waste? In the same sentence? Only if we are doing a TTC countdown. Soaking in a hot tub during the first trimester can cause harm to your baby. Studies indicate that heat from a hot bath or hot tub during the first 3 months of pregnancy may increase the odds of birth defects.
Avoid the hot tub... and while your out of it, start removing household hazardous wastes - including mercury thermometers, heavy metals, leads paints, etc. Today, you can find ecologically-friendly household cleaning products as alternatives to the old industrial standards we were raised with. Our bodies do absorb what is around us, so a clean house free of toxins or hazardous wastes is wise baby-planning.
Tell Your Doctor You are TTC
All the points above can be reviewed by your doctor. Feel free to let your doctor know you are counting down to becoming pregnant - and write a checklist of questions that your doctor can answer based on your unique medical history. If you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking prescription medications, talk with your doctor about the safety of these drugs. Also, certain herbal supplements, though natural, are not always safe during pregnancy. Some herbs are unhealthy for your baby and others may cause uterine contractions. When in doubt, talk to a healthcare provide.