By Dr. Tara Hughes
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. Or not. Micro-wedding vs big traditional do, a baby before or after marriage, anything goes and it’s all an incredible adventure. Plus, there’s nothing like a pandemic to cause plans to change. Whether you’re planning on children asap or only have seating plans on the brain for now, it’s worth planning ahead when it comes to having a baby.
Things to do now:
I cannot stress this enough, both for yourself and the baby. Smoking during pregnancy is linked with preterm birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and miscarriage. In men, smoking significantly reduces sperm quality and fertility. You can download the NHS SmokeFree app for advice and tips to quit.
The lead up to a wedding is an excellent opportunity to make sure you are eating well, exercising in moderation and aiming for a healthy weight. Being over- or underweight can impact your fertility. Being overweight also increases the risk of certain pregnancy problems including diabetes, high blood pressure and blood clots. If you have any long-term health conditions, talk to your GP about plans for pregnancy and consider whether any medications might be unsuitable and need changing. Also, look after your mental health. The stress of planning a wedding can take a toll on anyone.
It’s never too early to educate yourself on your options and there are excellent resources available on the patient section of the HFEA website. There’s information on insemination, using donor sperm or eggs and IVF. There’s also information for transgender and non-binary individuals. It’s worth considering what time frame you are considering as the waiting list for a fertility clinic can be around 6 months or more. Look to charities such as Stonewall to know your rights as a parent or charities on surrogacy/adoption if you think that these may apply to you.
When you’re ready:
Get to know your cycle.
There is a fertile window of 6 days during a menstrual cycle when you can get pregnant (5 days before the egg is released and the day of ovulation itself). You can estimate when you ovulate as it occurs about 14 days before your period starts. Learning your cycle means you are much more likely to conceive by having sex at least every other day during the fertile window. Using an app like Flo is an excellent way to keep track of your cycles.
Take a pregnancy or pre-pregnancy vitamin. It will contain 400 micrograms of folic acid. This helps to prevent problems with the baby’s developing spinal cord (neural tube) and should be continued right through the first trimester.
Finalise your parenthood plans and take steps to action them. Make a fertility appointment, seek a surrogate, register with your local authority for adoption. Whatever feels right for you.
Finally, having a baby may seem daunting but taking these simple steps above will put you off to the best start possible. From us parents and want-to-be parents here at TWE we wish you the best of luck in your parenting journey.