As a mama-to-be, everything that goes into your body goes into your baby’s body, so you want to do the best you can to ensure that your babe is getting the best that you can give her. Sometimes, though, you need to take prescription pills. This can cause a lot of stress and questions—is it safe? Will it hurt my baby? Can we keep trying to conceive while I’m on these meds?
The FDA has done an impressive job of classifying drugs as they relate to pregnancy. Instead of a binary model of saying “this is safe” or “this is not safe,” there are classes of risk associated with certain drugs and pregnancies. You as the parent-to-be, along with your doctor, need to discuss the options and come up with a solution you are both comfortable with. Here’s a quick run-down:
Category A: Human studies have shown no evidence of risk to the fetus during pregnancy.
Category B: Animal studies show no evidence of risk to the fetus, and there are no adequate human studies
OR Animal studies have shown an adverse effect, but human studies have not
Category C: Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no human studies, but the possible benefits may outweigh any potential risks to fetus
Category D: There is evidence of fetal harm to humans, but you can use these medications if the potential benefits outweigh any risks
Category X: Do not use under any circumstances. An example of this would be thalidomide, the drug that was linked to limb deformities in the 1950s.
Your doctor should tell you which category your meds fall into, then you and she can discuss whether it’s best to continue taking them, or if you should stop or try a different drug. It is great that you are considering this before you get pregnant, so you have time to wean yourself off if necessary, or look for alternate therapies. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- Are there other ways of treating this condition that I haven’t fully looked into?
- How would I feel if my baby was born with a birth defect? Could I live with that? Would I blame myself?
- How much potential risk to the fetus does this health problem pose, if I stopped taking my meds? Is that risk worse than the risk of taking the drug?
- What does my partner think about this?
This way, if you decide to continue to take the drug, you can do so with the confidence that you made the best choice you could. You will learn soon enough as a parent that your best is all you can do!
For couples that struggle with fertility, acupuncture may seem like an attractive option: it’s non-invasive (as long as you don’t count the needles going into your body as invasive!), with no hormone drugs and virtually no recovery time. But will it work?
As with most other non-western medicine, it is long on rhetoric and short on scientific studies. The premise of acupuncture is that the body consists of several pathways (called meridians) of energy (qi), and that the disruption of this energy through non-ideal health habits or an imbalance in the person’s spiritual, emotional or physical life can block the pathways. Acupuncture “unblocks” the meridians, allowing the person to experience better health.
It seems that fertility acupuncture works by helping the woman to relax, thereby decreasing the stress hormone in her body, which can disrupt ovulation and can prevent a healthy pregnancy. So far, so good. It also proposes to help with sperm count and motility in men, by helping to regulate the hormones in the pituitary.
So, can acupuncture increase your fertility? The short answer is: maybe. It sounds like it could work, and it is likely much less expensive than many other forms of fertility treatment (although acupuncture claims to be amenable to working along with other treatments such as IUI or IVF as well). There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that as stress goes down, fertility goes up, and so it may be worth a try even to decrease stress.
Before you start, here are some questions to ask yourself:
1) Are my expectations realistic? Are you expecting to walk out of the acupuncturist’s office and get pregnant tonight? Can you allow yourself to relax during the procedure without worrying about whether it’s “working” or not?
2) Can I afford it? Some health insurance plans cover it, but many don’t. You’ll likely be paying for all or most of it out of pocket. Are you comfortable with the cost?
3) Do I have a realistic timeline? How long are you willing to try it? Discuss with an acupuncturist how long you can expect to go to sessions before you get pregnant. Do you need to go once a week, once a month, or one time only? Do both partners need to go in order to feel the benefits? You will feel more in control of your fertility journey if you decide to try it for a certain period of time, rather than going indefinitely.
4) Is my partner supportive? Fertility treatments can be incredibly nerve-wracking, so it helps if both partners are on the same page. Ideally, a couple sees all fertility treatments as belonging to the couple, rather than the individual.
With your answers to those questions in mind, it might be worth a shot! Being a parent is all about maintaining an open mind, so you may as well start now!
Checking your cervical position is one way for you to find out what stage of ovulation you are in. For women trying to get pregnant, this is an important indicator, as it will tell her how fertile she is on a given day. This will allow you to plan sex around your fertile time of your cycle, increasing your chances of conceiving.
What is the cervix?
Cervix is a narrow part of the uterus that meets the upper wall of the vagina. When your period starts, the blood from your uterus flows out through your cervix to your vagina. When you are fertile, the cervix excretes cervical mucus that will allow the sperm to travel more easily up the vagina and through the cervix into your uterus. Once you are pregnant, the cervix remains tightly closed until you are ready to give birth.
Checking the Cervix
The first thing that you will need to do is to ensure that your hands are washed and nails cut – long nails could cause tearing in the tissue of the cervix. Start by inserting a clean middle finger up to your middle knuckle. Normally going as far as the middle knuckle is sufficient, but she you have to go further if necessary – you need to be able to feel the cervix with her fingertip.
What If You are Unable to Reach Your Cervix in a Normal Position?
If you are unable to reach the cervix in a normal position, it is advised to try using a different position such as having one leg raised on a chair or squatting. If this does not work, experts recommend trying a few days later in the cycle.
Cervical Position Changes and Fertility
Your cervix changes position during the various stages of her cycle because of estrogen levels. During your least fertile days, the cervix will lie low. It will also be firm and closed and feel a lot like the end of a person’s nose.
As you ovulation and is at your most fertile, your cervix will begin to soften and be high, open and wet.
After you have ovulated, the cervix will go back to its low-lying closed position.
For most of your menstrual cycle, your cervix will stay in a ‘closed’ position since there is no egg available for fertilization. The cervix will only open itself up when it is ready for fertilization by sperm. Additionally, by staying in the closed position when a female is not fertile, her body also reduces the risk of her uterus being infected.
It takes time to get to know how your cervix changes during your ovulatory cycle and, while it may not be as easy to tell as checking the amount of mucus emitted during ovulation, it is a good idea to get to know the cervix position during ovulation as a further indicator of fertility.
Finally, you are encouraged to remember that getting to know the cervix position during various stages of ovulation will not happen overnight – you can expect a few months to go by before getting to know this part of your body thoroughly and be able to accurately determine your stage of fertility by the feel of your cervix.
When a couple decides they’re ready to have a baby, it’s easy to just jump right in and get started. (After all, making the baby is usually the easy – and fun – part!) Biological clocks (for both men and women) start to tick and it’s off to the races.
Yet, if you really want to have a child and want to raise your child in the best way possible, there are a few things to think about ahead of time. You need to assess your readiness. That doesn’t mean that won’t decide to go ahead anyway, but it does mean you do so with your eyes wide open.
Here are some areas of readiness you should consider before trying to conceive:
- Financial stability. It’s a fact: babies are expensive. They cost money. If you’re already struggling to make ends meet, you might think twice about having a baby. You don’t have to have millions in the bank, but you should at least be at a place where you’re paying your bills and can add in the cost of formula, diapers, clothes and health insurance for your baby. If you can’t afford it, find out ways to improve your life and make more money in order to reach your goal.
- Relationship readiness. Now, we’re not suggesting that single parents can’t be good parents. What we’re saying here is that couples who are together and are considering a child should be in it for the long haul. Studies show that stable families (even single parent ones) are simply better for children. If your relationship is rocky, think twice about adding a baby to the mix. The last thing you want is for that little one to become a pawn in a struggle between you and your ex.
- Health concerns. You also need to take a look at your physical condition. Get a complete physical, if possible, before you start trying to conceive. That goes for both men and women. Not only will it help you plan for a healthier pregnancy, it can make the process of trying to conceive a much easier and quicker one, too.
- Willingness to sacrifice. A baby changes your daily routine. You’re going to have many fewer opportunities to go out dancing with the girls, sleep in late on the weekends or even enjoy a long hot bath. Your lifestyle is going to change, and you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. That also means quitting smoking, giving up alcohol during pregnancy, and making other changes to insure that pregnancy is a healthy and happy time for both you and for your baby.
Parenthood isn’t for the faint of heart. Neither is pregnancy, for that matter. If you’re thinking about having kids, take some time to look at these things and see whether you’re truly ready. If you’re not, though, you don’t have to give up. You can identify areas in which you need to get ready and then work on them until the time is right for you.
Trying to have a baby is a pretty popular activity. If you don’t believe us, take a look at the world population charts for the past century or so. Humanity keeps on keeping on, and it’s all due to that magical moment of conception.
Yet, for all of the success out there, there’s still a lot of misinformation when it comes to understanding exactly how to get pregnant. Sure, we all learned the basics back in health class, but there’s really more to it. Some of these myths can actually work against you when you’re trying to get pregnant.
Let’s take a look at some of those common conception misconceptions:
- Just stopping the pill and having sex can get you pregnant. You might be surprised to find that it usually takes two or three cycles for couples that are trying to get pregnant to have any success. In fact, it’s not considered a fertility problem until you’ve been trying consistently for at least a year.
- It’s the woman’s fault if you can’t get pregnant. Research actually tells us that it’s as often the man’s fault as it is the woman’s – each are responsible for about 40% of fertility troubles. The other 20% is usually unexplained or a combination of the two.
- Sperm can only live for a few hours. This one isn’t true at all. The egg will only live for about 24 hours after it’s been released, but sperm can live inside a woman’s body for as long as five to seven days.
- You need to have sex on day 14 of your cycle to conceive. Ovulation occurs 14 days before your next period. For a woman with a 28-day cycle, that means day 14. Because those sperm can live for several days, that means you can have sex for several days prior to ovulation and still get pregnant. It also means that if your cycle is typically shorter or longer, you’ll ovulate on a different day.
- You can get pregnant after ovulation. Once the egg is released, it’s got a mere 24 hours to either become fertilized or die. You absolutely can’t get pregnant once the egg dies.
- You’ll have pregnancy symptoms before you miss a period. It is extremely rare for any pregnancy symptoms to occur before you miss your period. When they do, it’s most often in women who are trying to get pregnant and carefully watching the calendar, which suggests that some cases may even be psychosomatic. The first sign is almost always that positive pregnancy test.
- With one ovary, you’ll only ovulate every other month. Each ovary has the potential to release an egg each month. Only one will. That means with both ovaries, the same ovary could release for several months in a row. With one ovary, it may release every month for several months, then skip a month or two, then release again. There is no predictable pattern to how this will occur.
So, what other kinds of conception-related misconceptions have you come across?
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For as far back as anyone can remember, mothers have taught daughters everything they know about pregnancy and how to get pregnant. While the voice of experience is always useful, it’s also important to remember that your mom became pregnant a long time ago (in most cases). Some things seem to stick in her memory more than others, and not all of what sticks is always the stuff you really need to know.
Here are some things your mom may not have told you about getting pregnant:
- Pregnancy tests can get very expensive. Pregnancy tests on the shelf at your local drug store can be pricey. In many cases, you can get a package of test strips for less than the cost of a single pregnancy test. If you’re trying to conceive, you should shop around a bit.
- Pregnancy tests also come in different sensitivities. Some pregnancy tests look for lower levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) – the pregnancy hormone. A more sensitive test can predict pregnancy earlier than a less sensitive test.
- Don’t listen to too many pregnancy stories. It’s fun, at least in the beginning, to read others’ accounts of trying to get pregnant, the pregnancy process and even their labor and delivery experience. However, in many cases, what makes these good stories is that they’re exceptional; there are elements you probably won’t experience during a “typical” pregnancy.
- Morning sickness might not be like mom remembers it. Sure, about two third of women do experience some degree or another of morning sickness. But not everyone does, and having it or not doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or your baby. On the other hand, you might not realize that morning sickness can get so severe as to actually keep you from taking in food or liquids. This condition, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, requires immediate medical attention and may mean hospitalization.
- Epidurals and cesarean sections aren’t always the best choice. It’s taken some time, but over the past few decades there’s more of a trend toward natural childbirth and treating C-sections as a last resort, as opposed to a preferred method of childbirth. Sure, natural childbirth is going to hurt, but there are all sorts of things you can do to alleviate some of the pain. In the end, you’ll probably be happier with the experience.
- Your partner can play an active role in childbirth. Here’s another trend that’s changed over the past several decades. Your partner can (and probably should) be in the birthing room with you. He can be a wonderful source of emotional support and help. Many partners, of course, serve as a childbirthing coach or Lamaze partner.
- You’re going to have mixed emotions about becoming a mom. There will be times that the thought of having a child scares you to death, right up until the time you actually give birth. This uncertainty is normal, although it’s something parents are often loathe to tell their children about.
So, what about you? Is there advice your mom gave you that, in retrospect, probably doesn’t apply? What good advice did she give you?