Q: My husband and I are ready to start trying to get pregnant. What's most important for us to keep in mind?
A: Since you're obviously (and wisely) planning ahead, there are several things you can do before you conceive to help ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
First, you should visit your ob-gyn or healthcare provider for a pre-pregnancy checkup. During this visit, your doctor will ask about your medical and family history (to make sure you don't have any conditions that could affect your fertility or pregnancy) and will likely go over your diet and lifestyle (to make sure you're engaging in healthy habits and have stopped anything that could be harmful, like smoking or binge drinking). This is also a perfect opportunity to ask any questions you may have -- and remember, this is a new experience for you, so there are no stupid questions. If you take any medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements, you should mention these to your doctor, in case they may affect your ability to get pregnant or may be harmful to your baby.
Your doctor will also prescribe a prenatal vitamin with folic acid, if you're not already taking one, to reduce the risk of certain birth defects, like spina bifida, and to be sure you have all the nutrients you need to nourish your baby right from the start.
Once your doctor gives you the green light, go ahead and start trying. You may get pregnant right away, or it could take a few months, but if it doesn't happen as soon as you were expecting, don't get frustrated. To get pregnant faster, figure out when you ovulate (either using an ovulation predictor kit or by tracking your basal body temperature and cervical mucus), and plan to have sex a few times in the two or three days before and during ovulation. Nearly 90 percent of couples who start trying to conceive get pregnant within 12 months of trying.