Pregnancy Prep for Moms-to-Be

Learn what you need to know before trying to conceive.
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Updated March 18, 2020
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Image: Candice Picard

Thinking about making a baby? The most popular months to deliver are July, August, and September, so if you want to join the throngs of summertime mommies next year, fall’s the time to get busy. Many woman can get pregnant without a word of advice, but if you’re eager to speed things along, here are a few tips.

Re-learn the female anatomy

If you paid attention in biology class, you can skip this one. If not, here’s a basic refresher: You have ovaries. Your ovaries contain eggs. Sometime in the midst of your menstrual cycle (on average, around 14 days after your period starts), your ovaries release an egg, which starts a several-day journey toward your uterus (aka womb). If a sperm is hanging around and manages to hook up with the egg, you get pregnant. If not, your body flushes out the egg with a menstrual period. End of lesson.

Know your odds

Don’t stress if you don’t get pregnant right away. After all, you’ve only got about a 20 percent chance each time you ovulate. Seriously, you only have about a three-day window of fertility each cycle. You have to have sex at just the right time, and the sperm has to swim a long, long way to seal the deal. There’s no need to call the doc unless you’ve been trying to conceive for a year or more (or six months, if you’re over 35).

Take your vitamins

It’s best to start popping prenatal vitamins at least two months before you start trying, and you should start getting at least 400 mcg of folic acid each day as far as a year or two in advance. When taken before and during the early weeks of pregnancy, folic acid has been shown to greatly decrease the risk of neural tube defects (like spina bifida). You can also find folic acid in foods like spinach, black beans, orange juice, and strawberries.

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Get checked out

Sure, you’ll be seeing enough of your OB once that test reads positive, but go ahead and schedule your first appointment before you even start trying. This preconception counseling session is a time to discuss nutritional habits and medical history, make sure your immunizations are up to date, and talk to your doc about any factors that could lead to pregnancy complications. (Tip: While you’re at it, head to the dentist too—periodontal disease is linked to preterm and underweight babies.)

Do it, already!

Most health care professionals recommend that you have fun and don’t worry too much about perfect timing in the first three months of trying. If you’re excited to boost your odds, though, here are a few tricks:

• Sex during the three days before ovulation gives you the best chance of conception. Check your estimated ovulation date on our ovulation calculator.

• Tilt your pelvis after sex, so that gravity can help the sperm swim towards your cervix.

• Orgasm. The pulsing that results can also help the sperm swim to its destination. (How this is achieved is, of course, up to you and your partner.)

• Lose the lube. Most lubricants (including saliva) act as barriers to sperm. If you must have some help, a growing number of lubricants claim to be “fertility-friendly,” or simply indulge in a little extra foreplay.

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