To-Do Lists: Pre-Conception to Week 13
- Write down the date of your last period (and your one before that, if you remember).
- Get a thorough checkup with your regular doctor and gynecologist. Make sure your immunizations are up-to-date and that you don’t have any medical conditions that need to clear up before pregnancy.
- Make an appointment with your dentist for a good teeth cleaning and to have any dental work (like X-rays, fillings and surgery) completed before pregnancy.
- Check both sides of your family tree for genetic or chromosomal disorders. It’s easier if you know your history ahead of time for conditions like Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, and fragile-X syndrome.
- For tips on increasing your chances of getting pregnant, read our Conception to-do list.
- Swap your birth control for prenatal vitamins with folic acid. Talk to your practitioner if you’re taking hormonal birth control (like the Pill, patch or vaginal ring) because some recommend going through at least two cycles before trying to make a baby, while others say to go for it immediately.
- Have a preconception doctor’s appointment to check for any infections or medications that could be compromising your fertility. (Also make sure your immunizations are up-to-date before getting pregnant.)
- Get to know your menstrual cycle. Those with a regular cycle can usually calculate their ovulation day: Count the number of days from when you started your period last month to the day you got it this month and then subtract 14 days from this number.
- Track your temperature with a Digital Basal Thermometer. Take your temperature every morning before you get out of bed and keep a record. You’re most likely ovulating between the time your temperature drops (usually about a half degree) and rises again. Your temperature will spike during ovulation to provide a more fertile environment for contraception.
- Check your cervical mucous. You’ll notice a clear, runny vaginal discharge right before ovulation, which then thickens as you ovulate.
- Buy an ovulation kit that detects LH and estrogen hormones to help determine your most fertile days.
- To take advantage of your peak fertility days, start having sex five days before your likely day of ovulation and continue until the day after. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself and your partner; stress can negatively affect your ovulation, as well as cause sexual dysfunction and performance anxiety in your partner. And since sperm can live for 24 to 48 hours, it isn’t necessary to have sex every single day. Most fertility experts agree that every other day should be enough.
- Avoid anything that changes the pH balance in your vagina, like vaginal sprays, douching, scented tampons and personal lubricant.
- Stop smoking. Studies show that smoking can actually decrease your fertility by changing your estrogen levels and ovulation cycle.
- Make sure you’re at a healthy weight, with a body mass index (BMI) around 20 to 30. Gaining or losing a moderate amount of weight might help you to conceive, but this is something to check and discuss at a preconception doctor’s appointment.
- Both mom and dad need to start eating a more healthy, balanced diet to boost fertility. Nutrient-packed foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains will ensure women are getting enough nutrients for ovulation and men are getting the right vitamins for healthy sperm – like vitamins C, E and zinc.
- For hard-core exercisers (meaning every day for at least an hour), cool off while you’re trying to get pregnant. Too much exercise can cause the pituitary gland to tell the ovaries to stop ovulating.
- Cut the caffeine. While there’s a mixed opinion on whether caffeine hinders fertility, you might as well err on the side of safety and switch to decaf for the time being.
- Before jumping to invasive and expensive in-vitro fertilization (IVF), try medical acupuncture to increase fertility. While it won’t cure all fertility problems, it’s believed to increase blood flow in the ovaries and uterine arteries to thicken the uterine lining, as well as change pituitary, endorphin and ovarian hormone levels. The relaxation and increased flow of energy is also thought to be beneficial. However, it’s especially important to see an acupuncturist who specializes in fertility problems.
- For those with sexual dysfunction, sub-fertility or those just looking for an IVF alternative, talk to your doctor about intrauterine insemination, known as IUI or artificial insemination. Although a professional (who increases the sperm’s potency before insemination) usually does this, it can also be done DIY with sterile syringes. Check with your doctor for more information.
- Missed your period? Time to take a home pregnancy test. Good luck!
- If it’s positive, call your doctor. Depending on their policies, you might be whisked in immediately for a pregnancy confirmation or you might be asked to wait 6 to 8 weeks for the first official prenatal appointment. Even though the wait might be torturous, seeing a doctor in the first few weeks technically isn’t a medical necessity.
- While you’re waiting for your first appointment, think about your prenatal care options. Do you want to stick with your OB-GYN or opt for a midwife? Do you want to switch to a practitioner affiliated with a more desirable hospital or birth center or one that will perform a home birth? Nothing is set in stone this early in the game, but it’s important to get that ball rolling.
- If you don’t have employer-based health care, call a neighborhood clinic or your local Medicaid and WIC agencies for assistance. If you do have coverage, call an insurance representative to find out which practitioners and hospitals are covered under your plan, what percentage of the costs they cover, and any limits to your policy coverage.
- Buy a memory book (like a pregnancy journal or DIY scrapbook for the crafty among you) to record your upcoming pregnancy milestones.
- Drink lots of water. Buy a new BPA-free water bottle to always have with you, and take water breaks once an hour during your workday.
- Check the ingredients in your beauty products to make sure they’re safe. If unsure, use this searchable database by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to see what toxins are in your products.
- If extreme exhaustion has you unable to keep your eyes open, cut yourself some slack. Hit the hay early, make time for naps, leave work at the office, and eat smaller, more frequent healthy meals to boost your energy.
- Make a list of questions for your first prenatal appointment (which you should definitely schedule now if you haven’t already) – which might mean putting a notepad and pen by your bedside for those middle-of-the-night questions.
- Make a dentist appointment if you didn’t do so before you got pregnant. You won’t be able to get major dental work done now, but a good cleaning can prevent pregnancy hormones from causing inflamed, bleeding gums and tooth problems. Research shows that some gum disease can even cause pregnancy complications.
- Getting friendly with your toilet? Morning sickness is a well-known and expected part of pregnancy – but that doesn’t make it any less miserable. Take advice from Dr. Shari Brasner on how to relieve your nausea and vomiting.
- Prepare for pregnancy heartburn by picking up some antacids on your next drugstore run.
- The thought of the gym might be exhausting and sickening, but there’s an important exercise you can do without getting off the couch: Daily Kegel exercises will strengthen your pelvic-floor muscles, tremendously helping with labor and postpartum incontinence. It can never be started too early!
- If you have a cat, stop changing the cat litter. (We know that’s a tough one to give up.) Your partner will have to step up on poop duty because there’s a chance you can contract toxoplasmosis, a cat-related disease that could be dangerous to the fetus. If you must change the litter, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands afterwards.
- Shop for a bigger, more comfortable (perhaps cotton) bra if your breasts feel sore and swollen.
- Talk to your doctor about what kind of prenatal testing he or she recommends, and decide what you’re comfortable with.
- Pick up a baby name book, browse the Internet, and search through your favorite literature and movies for baby names. Brainstorm with your partner and start compiling a list that you’ll whittle down as the weeks go on.
- Start slathering moisturizer on your belly, hips and thighs. Although topical creams haven’t been proven to prevent stretch marks, a moisturizing lotion like cocoa butter can prevent dryness and itchiness as your skin starts to stretch.
- Make sure to get in moderate daily exercise to help circulate your blood, prevent constipation and stay healthy. More importantly, prenatal exercise has been proven to improve fetal development- and if that’s not a motivation factor, we don’t know what is.
- Instead of popping gas-relief medication (which needs your doctor’s green light), try sipping on chamomile tea or hot water with lemon to ease indigestion issues.
- If you feel ready, start browsing the maternity clothes section for well-fitting, silhouette-flattering outfits. They’re not all ugly – we promise.
- Buy a body pillow. Before you know it, you won’t be able to sleep without one.
- Avoid the urge to renovate a new room for the baby – don’t start tearing down walls and painting. The fumes and chemicals could be damaging to the fetus in these early developmental weeks.
- Increase your fluid intake (especially in the warmer months) to prevent dehydration and constipation.
- If your skin isn’t quite glowing and you’re considering getting a facial to clear your pores of a hormone-related oil surplus, talk with your practitioner and esthetician first. While most facials are safe, you’ll probably need a gentler regiment for your extra sensitive skin, meaning nix the microdermabrasion or glycolic peels.
- If your doctor thinks you need to be tested for chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down Syndrome), now is the time to do so. Possible tests include a nuchal translucency screening to determine risk, and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to diagnose. Talk to your doctor about the rare risks associated with these tests, such as miscarriage or infection.
- Ask your doctor if you can hear the baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler – and then mark the date in your memory book.
- Make a list of books to read, movies to see and places to go before the baby’s born. You won’t have much leisure time once the baby arrives, so take advantage of it now.
- Stay away from anything that raises your body temperature above 102 degrees – meaning hot tubs, extremely hot and long baths, intense workouts in hot weather, electric blankets, and saunas or steam rooms. Not only is it dangerous for the developing fetus, but you’re at a greater risk for dehydration, dizziness and lower blood pressure.
- If you haven’t already, let your family and friends in on your secret. (Give yourself points for an extra-creative reveal!)
- While you’re at it, tell your boss the good news and thoroughly review your company’s maternity leave policy (if they have one). Then meet with your HR department to discuss the details. (Your husband should also inquire about paternity leave.)
- If you’re itching for a romantic vacation before the baby arrives, now is the time to plan a babymoon with your partner. Get in the lazy days, romantic nights and couples-only retreats while you can.
- Stop doing any exercises that require you to lie flat on your back (like abdominal crunches) or stand in poses without moving (like in non-prenatal yoga and tai chi).
- If you’re feeling in the mood (which you may be if your energy is restored!), get intimate with your partner. The extra blood flow to the genitals makes second-trimester sex more arousing than normal for many women. (Plus, you don’t have an enormous belly in the way quite yet.) However, it’s completely normal not to feel into it.
- On a less sexy note, sit down and revise your budget and start saving for your near-future baby expenses.
- It may be 18 years away, but open up a savings account or 529 account to start socking money away for college. Experts say starting late is one of the biggest college savings mistakes parents can make.
- Stop spending your lunch break at your office desk and take a walk around the block (or building on crummy days). Breaking up your day with a little exercise is good for you.