Important First Steps to Family Planning
February 6, 2019
Deciding to start a family is one of the most exciting decisions that a couple will make in their lives. However, there’s more to getting pregnant than stopping your birth control. You need to arrange finances, see if you are healthy enough to carry a child, and determine the potential health risks that your child might face. Luckily, advances in today’s technology have made family planning more predictable and less up to chance. Two large topics of pre-conception planning are ovulation calculation and genetic testing. Here are a few important steps on the to-do list when you and your partner become ready to conceive.
Check in With Your Doctors
When you are ready to conceive, the first step is to consult with your gynecologist (OB-GYN). Not only will they have excellent input about your overall health regarding fertility, but they can also offer reliable, medical insight on how to conceive. In addition to the OB-GYN, consult your primary care physician to check for any chronic conditions that might pose a risk to your pregnancy. If you are already pregnant, then your doctor can help you through the next steps as well.
Stop Using Hormonal Birth Control Methods Early
If you rely on hormonal birth control methods, such as the pill, the patch, the shot, or a vaginal ring, it is best practice to give your body a month or two to regulate and resume ovulation before conceiving. During this time period of regulating your ovulation cycle, it is recommended that barrier contraceptive methods are still used. Stopping your birth control in advance will make your periods easier to track. Additionally, it decreases the risk of a miscarriage if you stop taking the pill for one month before trying.
Many sophisticated methods are available for tracking ovulation, including:
Ovulation applications for iPhone and Android
Basal temperature fertility tracking
Medical ovulation checking
It is recommended to consult an OB-GYN to find out when you may be ovulating and how to track it if you have an irregular ovulation cycle. Methods like basal temperature tracking can be helpful to women whose cycles are irregular and may not clearly know when ovulation will occur.
Consider Genetic Testing
Before conception, it is a medically responsible decision to consider carrier testing for diseases that you or your partner could pass along to your child. If both parents are carriers of a diseases, then the child could be at risk. Genetic carrier testing can be performed before conception and during pregnancy, and tests for life-threatening or fatal conditions, such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. Finding out the risk of passing on certain diseases does not necessarily mean a couple should not or cannot conceive together. However, it does give couples who are at greater risk of transmitting a genetic disease to their offspring the opportunity to consider other options, like adoption or sperm donation.
If you are already pregnant, non-invasive testing options like MaterniT 21 PLUS can help you get these results without putting your baby at risk. These blood tests are easier and more accurate than traditional amniocentesis tests, and screen for chromosomal abnormalities that could affect your baby’s health. Planning ahead for a genetic carrier test during pregnancy means you’ll be fully prepared.
If you and your partner are ready for a baby, it is easy to get swept up in the excitement. However, following a few simple steps can give you a safer, healthier experience with greater peace of mind.