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The moment of conception is technically when you first became pregnant, but obstetricians don’t calculate the age of your baby this way.

James W. Brann, MD

Your Pregnancy MD
Pregnancy Week One

Conception is at least 1 to 2 weeks away
Loving Couple

The countdown begins – 280 days until your estimated due date in 40 weeks. It should be mentioned that the average length of a normal pregnancy, is 280 days (or 40 weeks), and it starts with the first day of your last menstrual period.

Doctors use the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) to calculate your due date. A gestational age (weeks pregnant) calculated in this way erroneously assumes pregnancy to have begun approximately 2 weeks before conception.

On day 1 of pregnancy week 1, you just started your period. You’re having your menstrual flow now, so there is no possible way that you are really pregnant (and in fact you won’t actually conceive for another two weeks). Keep track of this monumental date, however, since this is the date that doctors use to pinpoint your estimated due date (EDD). If you are serious about conceiving, use this week to start planning your pregnancy.

How can I be 2 weeks pregnant before ovulation?
The video below will help.

Your Menstrual Cycle

Why You Should Keep Track of Your Cycle

Now that you’re trying to conceive, you have to pay attention to your menstrual cycle and the changes in your body during the month. You need to be tracking your menstrual cycle, if you haven’t already.

This means record the date when your period starts, record the number of days it lasts, and the average length between your periods. All of this information can help you identify your day of ovulation and your most fertile period during the month.

What Happens During Your Menstrual Cycle?

Every month, your body prepares itself for pregnancy. Your uterus develops a new endometrium (lining of the uterus) and becomes thickened in preparation for a fertilized egg. If no egg is fertilized, the uterus will shed the endometrium and you will have your period.

Your menstrual cycle length begins on the first day of your bleeding, and it ends on the start of your next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, but this can vary. You may have a cycle that’s only 21 days, or 35 days, and this is perfectly normal. If you’re a teenager, an average cycle can last up to 45 days (over a month and a half!).

Hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, affect your menstrual cycle. During the first half of your menstrual cycle, the levels of estrogen begin to rise. Estrogen makes the lining of the uterus grow and thicken to prepare your body to receive a fertilized egg. While this is occurring, an egg (called an “ovum”) in one of your ovaries is starting to mature. On day 14 of a regular 28-day menstrual cycle, the mature egg is released from the ovary. This is called ovulation.

{Helpful Tip} You have the highest chance of getting pregnant if you have unprotected sex four days before ovulation, the day you ovulate, or the day after. This is your most fertile time during your cycle. After this, the chances of conception are low, since the egg only has a life span of 24 hours post ovulation.

After its release from the ovary, the mature egg will now travel through the fallopian tube towards your uterus. At this point, the hormone progesterone will increase to help estrogen thicken the lining of your uterus.

The egg will live for 12 to 24 hours after it leaves your ovary. If your partner’s sperm fertilizes the egg, conception takes place. The fertilized egg will then embed and attach itself to the uterine wall, and you’ll have a baby in 40 weeks. When the mature egg is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels will drop and the lining of the uterus will start to break down. You will have your period, and the cycle starts all over again.

Signs of Ovulation

Subtle Signs of Ovulation

Because you are most fertile during the time you ovulate, it’s important that you pay attention to the subtle signs of ovulation. To improve your chances of making a baby, you will want to have sex during your fertile period. If you have a 28-day cycle, you will often ovulate on the 14th day (2 weeks after your period starts). If you don’t have the average 28-day cycle, you can calculate ovulation by figuring out when your next period is due and counting back 14 days.

If you’re not good at math, however, the easiest way to figure out when you’re ovulating is to buy an ovulation predictor kit. These kits work by indicating a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH), which rises 24 to 48 hours before ovulation occurs.

Cervical Mucus

Another way to detect ovulation is to pay attention to changes in your cervical mucus. During the course of your menstrual cycle, your cervical mucus will change in color, the amount of discharge, and the texture.

  • During week 1 of your menstrual cycle, you are having your period so you will experience menstrual bleeding.
  • After your period is over, you will be dry for several days. You are relatively infertile during this time.
  • Next, you will experience cloudy-colored mucus that has the consistency of sticky rice. You are still relatively infertile.
  • A few days before you ovulate, your cervical mucus will become clear and slippery, similar to the consistency of egg whites. You will have a lot of discharge. This is your fertile phase, so it’s baby-making time.
  • After ovulation, your mucus will go back to being sticky and cloudy colored. Then, you’ll experience vaginal dryness. You are relatively infertile during this time. 

To check your cervical mucus, insert a clean finger into your vagina and reach toward the cervix. Examine some of the discharge on your finger. Roll what you find between two fingers and see how “stretchy” it is. You are very fertile when your cervical mucus stretches between your fingers for one inch without breaking.

Basal Body Temperature

How to Chart Your Basal Body Temperature – BBT

{Helpful Tip} In addition to checking your cervical mucus, you can also track your basal body temperature.

After ovulation, your temperature will spike by 0.4 degree to 1.0 degree. You are most fertile in the two or three days before your temperature spikes. After the temperature rise, it may be too late to conceive a baby.

basal body temperature graph indicating ovulation
BBT Graph

10 Steps
to Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy

For the healthiest pregnancy possible, you need to take time to get yourself mentally and physically ready. Pregnancy takes a lot out of your body, and it’s not just your expanding belly you have to worry about. Your growing baby depends on you for his or her nutritional supply and safety for the next 40 weeks. You must prepare your body for this important task. With a few lifestyle changes, such as eating right and exercising regularly, you’ll find that preparing your body for pregnancy is easy.

1. Schedule a Preconception Checkup

Prenatal visit
Prenatal visit

During pregnancy week 1, it’s a good idea to call your general practitioner, gynecologist, or healthcare provider and schedule a preconception checkup. At this appointment, your doctor will review your medical history, family medical history, any medications you’re taking, and any pre-existing illnesses you may have. Your physician may also discuss your weight, diet and eating habits, and lifestyle choices (such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and illegal drugs).

The purpose of a preconception checkup is for your doctor to give you individual guidance on what you can expect from your pregnancy. He or she can give you recommendations on lifestyle and dietary changes; medications you may need to stop taking before becoming pregnant; complications you may encounter during your pregnancy; and other related concerns. Preconception checkups are to ensure that you’re healthy enough to carry a baby for nine months. They’re also aimed at helping you develop a plan to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.

2. Take a Prenatal Multivitamin with Folic Acid

The moment that you decide that you want to conceive, you have to run to the drugstore and buy a prenatal multivitamin with folic acid – the water soluble B-vitamin that can reduce your baby’s risk of neutral tube birth defects. Experts recommend that women trying to conceive should get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid into their diets at least one month before conception.

{Helpful Tip} Taking folic acid before and after pregnancy can cut your child’s risk of neutral tube defects by 50 to 75 percent.

3. Stop Smoking and Drinking Today

f you’re addicted to cigarettes stop now
Quit smoking during pregnancy

If you’re addicted to cigarettes or you drink on a regular basis, use your future baby as an excuse to stop.

Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to miscarriage, low birth weight babies, and premature birth. (Nicotine restricts blood flow to the placenta, which then restricts your unborn baby’s oxygen supply.) For women who smoke, it’s best to try to quit before you get pregnant.

Did you know that smoking might also decrease your fertility? Research has suggested that tobacco use may have negative effects on ovulation, tubal transport (the process of your egg making its way through the fallopian tubes), and implantation (the fertilized egg embedding itself in your womb). This means that it may be harder for smokers to get pregnant in the first place. If your man smokes, you may want him to quit too. Smoking can lower his sperm count, and it can affect his motility (sperm that don’t properly swim).

Alcohol is detrimental to your unborn baby, as well. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders – a range of lifelong disorders characterized by mental and physical birth defects. You definitely want to cut out any alcoholic drinks if you’re trying to conceive.

4. Make Healthy Food Choices

When you’re trying to conceive, you’ll want to start adopting healthy eating habits.
Make Healthy Food Choices

When you’re trying to conceive, you’ll want to start adopting healthy eating habits. Make sure that you eat a balanced diet that’s chock full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood, lean meats, and dairy products. You’ll want to eat nutritious foods now, so that your body will have the nutritional stores required for a healthy pregnancy.

5. Slow Down on Your Coffee Intake

No more than 300 milligrams of caffeine in the first trimester.
Watch the amount of caffeine you consume

If you consume more than 300 milligrams of caffeine (which equals to two 8-ounce cups of coffee) each day, you may want to cut down on your caffeine intake. Keep in mind that caffeine isn’t just found in coffee; it’s also an ingredient in teas, soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee-flavored ice cream and frozen yogurts; chocolates and candy bars.

Emerging research has suggested that high amounts of caffeine can interfere with your ability to get pregnant. Caffeine constricts your blood vessels, which restricts blood flow to your uterus and can make it harder for a fertilized egg to grab hold and imbed. Low to moderate caffeine consumption (less than 300 milligrams a day) probably won’t interfere with your ability to get pregnant, but if you can, you should start cutting down on how much caffeine you drink.

Eliminating caffeine completely out of blue can give you terrible headaches, so you will want ease into it. Gradually decrease the amount of caffeinated drinks that you consume each day until you get accustomed to life without any caffeine at all. 

6. Exercise

If you do not exercise, start a program now before pregnancy.
Start an exercise routine before pregnancy

If you don’t exercise on a regular basis, it’s a good time to start now. A healthy body equals a healthy pregnancy. Exercising improves your attitude about daily irritants, gives you higher energy level, helps you sleep better, and decreases your stress level. (Scientists now suggest that stress may play a role in 30 percent of all infertility problems.)

A healthy fitness program doesn’t have to be rigorous. All you need is 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. This can include brisk walking, jogging, weight training, and swimming. You should continue working out after you get pregnant, too. For women with low-risk, normal pregnancies, exercising is safe and recommended. Exercising when pregnant helps you stay within the recommended weight gain for your size; it decreases the severity of your pregnancy symptoms; and it makes labor and delivery much easier.

7. Lose Weight

Overweight women have a more difficult time getting pregnant
Lose weight before pregnancy

Overweight women have a more difficult time getting pregnant, and they are at risk for a number of pregnancy complications (such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes). Losing weight now can decrease the risk of complications, and it may help you get pregnant faster.

Obesity has been linked to infertility due to ovulary dysfunction – a condition in which you don’t ovulate consistently, and you may have irregular periods. Shedding a few pounds may help you ovulate more frequently, which will help you get conceive quicker. In fact, just losing 5 or 10 percent of your overall body weight can result in normal ovulation in 60 percent of women with ovulary dysfunction.

Pregnancy isn’t the time to diet or lose weight, so if you want to shed a few extra pounds, you should do so before you get pregnant.

8. Call Your Dentist

It is very important to have good oral health during pregnancy
It is very important to have good oral health during pregnancy

When you’re preparing for pregnancy, don’t forget about your oral health. Schedule a routine dental cleaning and take care of any dental problems before you conceive. The hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy can make you more susceptible to cavities and gum problems. Pregnancy gingivitis may also increase your risk of preterm labor and delivery. So, if you take care of periodontal problems before you get pregnant, you can reduce your risk of gum-related problems during pregnancy.  

9. Get a Mental Health Check

Make sure that you’re mentally prepared for pregnancy and motherhood. If you suffer from depression, you may find that it’s twice as hard for you to conceive. According to a 1995 study in the journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, women with a history of depressive symptoms had twice the rate of infertility.

Treatment for depression can, however, improve your chance of getting pregnant. In a 1999 study in the Journal of American Medical Women’s Association, depressed women who underwent treatment had a 60 percent successful pregnancy rate within six months, compared to only 24 percent in the women with untreated depression.

If you have a family history of mental illness, or you have struggled with depression or emotional problems, you should get a mental health check before trying to conceive. Treatment will help you feel better, and it may help improve your chances of conception.

In addition, hormonal alterations that occur in pregnancy put you at higher risk for mood swings and emotional unease. If your OB/GYN or midwife knows about your mental health problems ahead of time, he or she will be able to provide better prenatal care.

10.  Say Goodbye to Birth Control

Stop your hormonal contraceptive months before you want to get pregnant.
stop your birth control if you wish to conceive

The final step to prepare your body for pregnancy is to get rid of your birth control pills. You can’t get pregnant if you’re using contraceptives, so it’s time for you to ditch your contraceptive.

Using condoms or a diaphragm? Stop using them completely. If you’ve been using hormonal contraception like the pill, you’ll want to finish your current pack to prevent irregular bleeding.

Women who stop using the pill are often fertile within the first month after stopping use. It can take some women longer, and others are fertile right away. This is true for women who use a contraceptive patch or a contraceptive ring.

Unfortunately, if you’ve been getting Depo-Provera shots, it may take up to one year after your last injection before you start to ovulate.

Scheduling a Pre-Pregnancy Appointment

After you decide that you’re 100 percent positive that you want to conceive, you should schedule a pre-pregnancy appointment with your healthcare provider. This doctor’s appointment is also called a preconception checkup, and it’s a smart move for any woman – especially those who have underlying health problems or a family history of obstetrical complications.

You can schedule this preconception checkup with your regular gynecologist or family doctor. This is also a good time to start looking around for an OB/GYN, certified nurse-midwife, or another prenatal practitioner. You may want to schedule your pre-pregnancy appointment with this doctor.

What Happens at a Pre-Pregnancy Appointment?

Schedule a preconception appointment with your physician
Schedule a preconception appointment with your physician

During a preconception checkup, the OB/GYN or other qualified healthcare provider will review your health history; conduct a Pap examination; ask you for a urine sample to check for urinary tract infections; and he or she may draw blood for blood work.

At this visit, you should come prepared to answer a long line of questions about your overall health and lifestyle. You will have to answer questions to the following topics:

Gynecological History – The practitioner will ask about your menstrual cycles, how regular they are, how many days they last, and the date of your last period. You’ll also have to provide information about birth control methods you use. He or she will give you guidance on stopping birth control.

You will also discuss any sexually transmitted diseases (herpes, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, syphilis, etc.) you have presently, or you’ve had in the past. Some STDS are “silent,” which means you won’t have any symptoms now, but they can be problematic in pregnancy. If your partner or significant other has a history of having multiple sexual partners, you’ll want to get an STD screening to be on the safe side. You will also want to get tested for HIV.

Obstetrical History – If you have been pregnant in the past, you’ll want to discuss this experience with your doctor. Be prepared to talk about any pregnancy complications you may have experienced in the past, such as preterm birth, miscarriage, stillbirths, ectopic pregnancies, abortions, gestational diabetes, etc. If you’ve given birth before, your doctor will also need to know how you delivered your child (vaginally, with the help of vacuum extraction or forceps, or a cesarean section). If you experienced any postpartum complications, bring up this too.

Medical History – Your doctor will ask about any pre-existing medical conditions you may have, including high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and other illnesses. These conditions can affect your pregnancy, so you’ll want to have them controlled prior to conceiving. Your doctor may also give you advice on how to manage these health problems during pregnancy, or he or she may refer you to a specialist to help.

If you’ve had surgeries in the past or you’ve been hospitalized before, this is something you need to bring up at this appointment. You need to also bring up any allergies you may have.

Current Medications – At this preconception checkup, you should bring a list of prescription and over-the-counter medications that you’re currently taking. Some medicines aren’t safe during pregnancy, so your doctor needs to know this information beforehand. He or she may give you alternatives medicines that are safer during pregnancy.

You should also discuss any vitamins, herbs, or nutritional supplements that you’re taking. Your healthcare provider will recommend that you start taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. This is a good time to discuss with your doctor his or her recommendations for prenatal vitamins.

Family Medical History – Be prepared to discuss your family’s health history. Tell your doctor if there’s a family history of diabetes, twins or multiples, mental retardation, congenital birth defects, anemia, high blood pressure, deafness, blindness, or any other health conditions that run in your family.

Vaccination History – The healthcare provider will ask about which vaccinations you’ve had, so you should bring an immunization record, if you have it. If you don’t know whether you have immunity to rubella (German measles), you will be tested. Most Americans receive the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine during childhood, but it is important to double-check your immunity for this disease. Infection of rubella (also called the German measles) in early pregnancy can have devastating effects on your developing baby, including miscarriage and birth defects.

Similarly, if you can’t remember whether you had chicken pox as a child, you may be tested for immunity. Chicken pox may sound harmless, but it can cause birth defects and other complications in pregnancy.

At this visit, you may need to get a tetanus booster shot, if it’s been over ten years since your last shot.

Emotional History – Although it may be uncomfortable to discuss your mental health history at your preconception checkup, it’s an important part of your future prenatal care. If you’ve ever suffered from eating disorders, depression, or any other emotional illness, your healthcare provider needs to be aware of this to ensure that you get the best care possible during your pregnancy. If you’re currently taking any antidepressants or any psychiatric medication, you need to tell your doctor. They may need to switch you to another medication during pregnancy.

Abusive Relationships – A good healthcare provider should ask about any history of domestic violence or abuse. Keep in mind that abuse comes in many forms, including physical abuse (slapping, hitting, kicking, etc.) and emotional abuse (threats, constant putdowns, degrading you, etc.). Admitting to a professional that you’re in an abusive relationship can be embarrassing, but it’s very important that you let your doctor know. Abuse often gets worse during pregnancy, and abusive partners will become abusive parents once your child is born. Your doctor should be able to give you resources to help – including domestic violence hotlines, safe havens, legal and social services.

Lifestyle Factors – At your preconception checkup, your doctor will ask about any bad habits you or your partner may have, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and using recreational drugs. Your healthcare provider will urge you to stop these habits before you get pregnant.

If you don’t exercise regularly, your doctor may recommend that you start a fitness program now. For women who are either underweight or overweight, your doctor will help you find a plan to attain a healthy weight before you get pregnant.

Your Diet – Your eating habits are crucial to your baby’s health during pregnancy, so you should be prepared to discuss your diet with your doctor at your pre-pregnancy appointment. Your doctor will ask you how much caffeine you consume, what types of food you eat, and your regular alcohol consumption. He or she will recommend that you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. You may also be asked to start taking prenatal vitamins with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid.

Genetic Screening – If you or your partner has a family history of genetic disease, if you’re over 35, or if you’ve had recurrent miscarriages, you may be referred to a genetic counselor to get screened. Genetic screening will help you discover your likelihood of having a child with a genetic defect, and you will get the chance to discuss your options with a professional.

After your doctor finishes asking you his or her questions, it’s your turn to talk about any questions or worries you may have. Don’t be embarrassed to ask anything; your healthcare provider has heard it all before.

Examinations at Your Preconception Checkup

At your preconception checkup, you’ll have to undergo a gynecological exam, in which the doctor will examine your genital area for any signs of an infection or sexual transmitted disease. Your vagina and cervix will be examined as well.

If you haven’t had a Pap smear within the last year, you’ll have one at this visit. The purpose of this Pap smear is to check for any abnormal cell changes or cancer. He or she may also take a cell culture to check for Chlamydia and gonorrhea. Be sure to mention any abnormal vaginal discharge or itching you may be experiencing. Your doctor will want to take a culture for vaginal infections, too. After the Pap smear, your doctor will examine your ovaries, uterus, and cervix for any problems.

Urine and Blood Tests at Your Preconception Checkup

During your pre-pregnancy checkup, you will be asked to give a urine sample. The healthcare team will check your urine for any signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI). If you do have a UTI, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to clear it up.

Sometimes, your urine may contain sugar. In this case, you will be asked to take a glucose tolerance test to check for diabetes.

In addition to the urine test, you will be asked to give blood at your preconception checkup. Your doctor may check for your white blood cell count; hemoglobin (HGB) and hematocrit (HCT) counts; your Rh factor (most people are Rh positive, but if you’re RH negative, this can complicate your pregnancy); and your immunity to rubella and chicken pox. You may also get tested for HIV, syphilis and other STDs.

What You Need to Know about Nutrition Before Pregnancy

A good and balanced diet is important before and during pregnancy
Start eating healthy now

Your diet and nutrition are vital elements of a healthy pregnancy, but did you know that eating healthy can also help you conceive faster? More and more research studies have linked food to your fertility health. The healthier you eat, the healthier your body is and the higher the likelihood that you’ll conceive and give birth to a healthy baby in 40 weeks.

Eating a balanced diet before you get pregnant will ensure that your baby has the best environment to grow in for nine months, and it also decreases the likelihood of nutritional deficiencies that can complicate your pregnancy.

When you’re trying to conceive, you will want to follow the USDA’s MyPlate (which replaced the Food Guide Pyramid in 2011). MyPlate icon is divided into five food groups:

Grains – Foods within the grains group are made with wheat, rice, oats, barley, cornmeal, or another cereal grain. Examples of grain products include breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, oatmeal, grits, and tortillas. For a balanced diet, make sure that you eat whole grains (when you can).

Vegetables – Eat plenty of different vegetables or 100 percent vegetable juice for a healthy diet. Vegetables are organized into five subgroups: dark green vegetables (which are plentiful in folic acid, so make sure you get them into your diet); red and orange vegetables; beans and peas; starchy vegetables; and other vegetables. Half of your plate at each meal should be fruits and vegetables.

Fruits – Along with vegetables, you will want to eat a wide assortment of fresh fruit or 100 percent fruit juice. Fruits can be a substitute for a sugary dessert, and they can be eaten fresh, canned, frozen, and dried.

Dairy – Calcium is a vital nutrient in pregnancy, so make sure that you eat dairy products into your everyday diet. You may want to drink one glass of milk with breakfast, or enjoy a milk-based dessert (pudding, ice milk, frozen yogurt, ice cream) for a treat. Cheese and yogurt are also included in the dairy food group.

Protein – A balanced diet must include protein. You can find protein in both vegetable and meat. Protein can be found in lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and seafood. Make sure that you choose lean, low-fat sources of protein. Vary the different protein sources that you consume as well.

To have a healthy pregnancy, you’ll want to have adequate nutritional stores. Eating healthy is not hard to do.

Nutrients You Need When Trying to Conceive

In the perfect world, you would meet all of your nutritional needs by eating a healthy and balanced diet. Unfortunately, it’s hard to eat right all of the time. Work and family life can sometimes interfere with your eating plans. To make sure that you get all the nutrients that your body requires for healthy conception, start taking a prenatal multivitamin. Double check the label to ensure that it contains at least 400 milligrams of folic acid. If you’re a vegetarian, you may need to take an additional vitamin D and vitamin B12 supplement. Your doctor can give you guidance on the right prenatal multivitamin for your needs.

A prenatal multivitamin does not replace a healthy diet. It serves as added protection. You will want to still eat as healthy as you can, whenever it’s feasible.

When you’re trying to conceive, there are three major nutrients that you will want to pay attention to:

Folic Acid – Women who are trying to conceive should get between 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) and 800 micrograms (0.8 mg) of folic acid into their diet every day. Folic acid is found naturally in certain foods, but you’ll want to ensure you’re getting your daily amount by taking a supplement. Folic acid will decrease your baby’s risk of spina bifida. Neutral tube defects can occur before you even realize that you’re pregnant, so you will want to start taking folic acid at least one month prior to conception and throughout the first trimester. During pregnancy, you need to get at least 600 micrograms (0.6 mg) of folic acid to meet the growth of your baby and placenta.

Over-the-counter prenatal vitamins typically contain between 600 and 800 micrograms of folic acid. Folic acid (also called folate) can be also found in food, including leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, kale, mustard greens), fortified cereals, and beans and peas.

Fortunately, if you get too much folate, your body will remove the extra that you don’t need.

Iron – Many women in their reproductive years have low iron stores (not enough iron in their blood). You may not have enough iron due to menstrual bleeding and a poor diet. You’ll want to build up your iron stores prior to conception, because iron is vital to build healthy red blood cells – which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the cells in your body, and to the womb. Half of all pregnant women don’t have enough iron in her body, and this can lead to premature birth and a low birth weight baby.

Good food sources of iron include lean meats (beef, liver, pork, and lamb,), poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), fish, and iron-enriched grain products (breads, pasta, rice, and cereals). Your prenatal multivitamin should include iron.

Calcium – You will want adequate stores of calcium in your body before you try to conceive. Women who are trying to conceive should aim for 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. This equals to three or more servings of dairy products each day. You can find calcium in milk products, low-fat yogurt, and cheese.

During pregnancy, if you don’t have enough calcium, your unborn child will draw the calcium from your bones. This can put you at risk for osteoporosis (brittle bones) later in your life.

Although healthy eating can sound like a bore, especially if you’re used to eating junk food and sugary snacks, you should keep your future baby’s health and well-being in mind. You are the sole nutritional source for your baby, so you need the nutritional stores to support a growing baby for 40 weeks!

{Helpful Tip} When you’re trying to conceive, you should eliminate alcohol from your diet. Alcohol can impair both male and female fertility. In women, it can make it harder for you to conceive. In men, heavy drinking can affect the quality and quantity sperm produced.

Stopping Contraceptives

Are you ready to have a baby? The first step is to stop taking contraceptives (birth control). If you’re using condoms during sex, that’s an easy fix. You simply have unprotected sex from here on out, and you’ll get pregnant. If you use a diaphragm, it’s possible to conceive immediately after you stop use.

For women using hormonal contraceptives, conception may take a little longer than expected.

Oral Contraceptives

Women using oral contraceptives (birth control pills) will ovulate and have their menstrual flow within six weeks after they stop taking the pills. Some women can get pregnant immediately, but it can take others months before they successfully conceive. It just depends on when you begin to ovulate again. (Oral contraception work by preventing ovulation; thickening your cervical mucus, so that sperm has a harder time reaching the uterus; and thinning out the lining of your uterus, so that a fertilized egg cannot attach.)

Doctors recommend that women on the pill finish one complete cycle of pills before stopping. This will prevent any irregular bleeding that may occur. To help date your pregnancy, it’s best if you wait until you’ve had one normal period before you try to conceive.

{Helpful Tip} If you happen to get pregnant immediately after stopping the birth control pill, don’t freak out. This won’t hurt your baby or your pregnancy. The same holds true if you happen to conceive while using the birth control pill.

Birth Control Vaginal Ring

The birth control vaginal ring (NuvaRing is the brand name) is a hormonal contraceptive that releases the same hormones (estrogen and progestin) that are present in the birth control pill. It prevents ovulation, thickens your cervical mucus, and thins the lining of your uterus.

After you stop using the vaginal ring, you may ovulate within a few days, or it may take a few months before you ovulate. For most women, their menstrual cycles return to normal within one or two months after they stop using the vaginal ring. Sometimes, women may have no periods for up to six months. In this case, pregnancy is possible but it may be more difficult to figure out when you ovulated.

Depo-Provera (Birth Control Shot)

The Depo-Provera shot is a birth control method that releases the hormone progestin into your body. Like the other hormonal birth control methods, it prevents ovulation from occurring. You are protected against pregnancy for up to 14 weeks, but you must get the shot every 12 weeks to protect against pregnancy. When you get these birth control shots, you may have irregular periods or no periods at all. After a year of Depo-Provera shots, half of all women stop having periods.

Because the Depo-Provera protects against pregnancy for 14 weeks, you will not get pregnant during this length of time. When you stop receiving the injections, it will take three to four months before you have the possibility of conceiving. For some women, they cannot conceive until one or two years after they stop getting the injections. (This long time period seems unrelated to how long you’ve been receiving the injections).

Intrauterine Device (IUD) for Birth Control

An intrauterine device (IUD) is another hormonal birth control method that a doctor inserts into your uterus. It works by damaging or killing off sperm; thickening the mucus in your cervix; and thinning the lining of your uterus so that a fertilized egg cannot properly attach. Your normal fertility will return to normal once you have the IUD removed.

Unfortunately, if you happen to conceive while the IUD is in place, you have a very high risk of miscarriage or preterm birth. (IUDs do not cause birth defects, thankfully).

Contraceptive Patch  (Ortho Evra)

Ortho Evra is an FDA approved contraceptive patch that releases estrogen and progestin into your bloodstream to prevent ovulation from taking place. Like other hormonal contraceptives, the patch thickens your cervical mucus so that sperm cannot reach your egg.

After you stop using the contraceptive patch, it may take several months before you begin to ovulate and your menstrual cycle returns to normal.

Commonly Asked Questions
about Week 1

Commonly asked questions about week one
Doctors corner Q & A

Q. Can you get pregnant if you have unprotected sex on your period?

A. Your period doesn’t necessarily protect you against pregnancy. Although the risk of conception during your period is highly unlikely, there is always a small possibility.

You’re more likely to get pregnant on your period if you have a very short menstrual cycle and you end up ovulating early. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days (with ovulation taking place on day 14), but if you have a short cycle that’s 22 days long, for example, you may ovulate a few days after your period ends. Since sperm can stay alive in your body for as long as five days, pregnancy is theoretically possible under this circumstance.

Even if you don’t have a short menstrual cycle, there’s always a small chance of pregnancy if you happen to ovulate early. There are many factors that can affect when you ovulate, including stress, your overall health, lifestyle habits, medications you’re taking, etc.

Some women also experience spotting (light bleeding) between their periods. This can be mistaken for a regular period, especially in women who may have irregular periods. If you happen to spot right around the time of ovulation, and you end up having sex, you could get pregnant.

Q. I have unusually long cycles, lasting 35 to 38 days. My period comes “regularly” once a month. It’s been 42 days since my last period. I took a home pregnancy test, and the results were negative. What’s going on?

A. There are several factors that may be at play. It’s possible that your ovulation was delayed this month – stress is the number factor. If ovulation occurred later than usual, this ultimately means your period will arrive a few days later than expected. If you took a home pregnancy test and the results were negative, then you should wait a few days. Your period may arrive when you least expect it.

On the other hand, if your period is late, there’s always a chance that you’re pregnant. Home pregnancy tests measure the level of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. This hormone is produced from the cells in the placenta, and it first enters your blood stream when the fertilized egg implants in your uterus. If you take a home pregnancy test too early, the levels of hCG in your urine may not be high enough to detected yet. The home pregnancy test may have a negative result, but you may actually be pregnant. Wait a few days, or perhaps a week, and take another test.

Q. My husband and I are trying to have a baby. I went off birth control two months ago, and I still haven’t had my period. Is there a chance that I’m pregnant?

A. Yes, it is possible that you’re pregnant. You may have ovulated and already conceived. You won’t have your period if you’re already pregnant. If you haven’t already, take a home pregnancy test to confirm the results.

Sometimes, stopping the birth control pill can cause “post-pill amenorrhea” – a lack of periods for several months. Because the pill is a hormonal contraceptive, it works by stopping your body from producing the hormones involved in normal ovulation and menstruation. After you stop taking the pill, it may take some time before your body starts to produce these hormones again. Your period should start within three months after you stop using the birth control pill. Go see your doctor if you do not have a regular menstrual period after three months. You will also want to take a home pregnancy test to confirm that you aren’t pregnant.

Q. Before my last period was due, I had five days of pinkish discharge. Then, I bled relatively lightly for 3 days, which I took as my period. Since then, I’ve experienced a few early pregnancy symptoms – nausea, bloating, and breast tenderness. What’s going on?

A. What you may have experienced is implantation bleeding – light bleeding that occurs 10 to 14 days after conception. It’s the result of the fertilized egg attaching itself to your uterine lining. Experts believe that implantation bleeding is due to blood leaking from the implanted egg into the uterine cavity. Also called implantation spotting, it usually only lasts a day or two. It should be light, but occasionally the flow can be similar to a menstrual period.

If you’re not sure if you’re pregnant, take a home pregnancy test to confirm. You may also want to head to the doctor to confirm that your bleeding isn’t due to a very early miscarriage. When in doubt, call your doctor.

Q. Can you have your menstrual period while you’re pregnant?
Is that possible?

A. No, it is not medically possible to have a menstrual period while you are pregnant. However, some women do experience vaginal bleeding during their pregnancy. This bleeding is not the same as menstrual bleeding. Do not confuse the two. Menstruation only occurs when you’re not pregnant; your body is shedding the uterine lining and egg that was not fertilized. If you are pregnant, you will not experience your period again until after your baby is born.

Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy can be serious, and it can be nothing to worry about. Sometimes, it’s due to implantation bleeding. Other times, it can be a sign of a serious complication – such as a miscarriage of an ectopic pregnancy. You should always call your doctor if you experience any bleeding at all. Play it safe.

Q. I’m still waiting for my period to come, but I’ve noticed that my basal body temperature has stayed high for the past two weeks. Does that mean I’m pregnant?

A. An elevated basal body temperature that remains high for eighteen days after ovulation may be an early sign of pregnancy. You should take a home pregnancy test to confirm.

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