Fitness Dos & Don'ts for Getting Pregnant

You may have heard that too much -- or too little -- exercise while you're trying to get pregnant can make it harder to conceive. Here, we separate the myths from the facts on fitness and fertility.

Do Start Exercising
Making exercise a regular habit before trying to conceive can help you feel good throughout your pregnancy, have more stamina for labor and delivery, and shed the baby weight faster. Exercise may even improve your fertility if you're struggling to conceive due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or are overweight. Learn how to start or maintain a conception-friendly exercise routine and find out which exercises are best to get you in shape before you conceive.

Your Pre-Conception Diet Makeover

What you eat while trying to conceive is as important now as it will be when you're pregnant. Here's what you should -- and shouldn't -- be eating (and drinking) to make sure your pregnancy is in the pink. (Or blue!)

Load Up On Leafy Greens
Greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are great sources of folate, a key B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, including spina bifida, during the earliest stages of fetal development. But this doesn't mean you have to eat salads every day. There are plenty of other ways to prepare greens. Tear pieces of kale, sprinkle them with olive oil and kosher salt, and roast on high for crunchy kale crisps. Or toss baby spinach with hot whole wheat pasta or brown rice.

A Preconception Checklist --Lifestyle and Relationship Issues

Lifestyle and Relationship Issues

____ Say good-bye to alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. If you can't kick the habit alone, get help from your doctor, your company's Employee Assistance Program, or support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.

____ Get some sleep. All-nighters can wreak havoc on your health -- and possibly, your fertility.

____ Minimize stress. If possible, postpone stressful situations such as moving or changing jobs.

____ Confront your demons. Childhood traumas, like losing a parent or being emotionally or physically abused, can profoundly impact your ability to parent. Unpack your emotional baggage now -- preferably with the help of a therapist, clergyman, or other professional -- to avoid passing it on to your kids.

A Preconception Checklist ---Your Finances

Preconception is a big part of babymaking. Find out how to get your body ready for pregnancy.

Your Finances

____ Find out if your insurance covers 100 percent of prenatal care/delivery. You may need to change to an in-network doctor, or choose one local hospital over another.

____ If you don't have insurance, get some now. Depending on your location, individual HMO policies start at around $200 a month -- substantially less than the cost of medical care for a pregnancy from start to finish.

____ See an accountant or financial planner to discuss savings plans, both for baby's college and for other big-ticket items like nannies, day care, private preschools, and unfunded maternity or paternity leave.

A Preconception Checklist

Preconception is a big part of babymaking. Find out how to get your body ready for pregnancy.

Whether you're actively trying or just thinking about getting pregnant, you can take steps now to make the experience as healthy and joyful as possible. Print and carry this handy checklist to keep track of your efforts.

Can a Woman Become Pregnant During Her Period?

It's a common misconception that if a woman has sex during her period she cannot become pregnant. While a woman is unlikely to get pregnant during her period, it is absolutely possible.

Defining a Period

"A period is defined as the blood loss that happens at the end of an ovulatory cycle, as the result of an egg not being fertilized by a sperm," explains Michele Hakakha, M.D., a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist based in Los Angeles and co-author of Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy.

Provera and Ovulation

Find all the answers to your questions about Provera and ovulation, whether you're taking Provera and thinking about pregnancy, or your doctor suggests Provera to stimulate ovulation.

Provera is a prescription drug containing medroxyprogesterone acetate, a type of synthetic progesterone. Progesterone is one of the hormones that controls the menstrual cycle and ovulation, the monthly release of an egg from the ovaries. Progesterone also helps to prepare the womb lining for pregnancy and shed the lining each month when pregnancy does not occur (a process you know as your monthly period).

Charting Your Basal Body Temperature

Your body gives you several signs that you could be ovulating. One is a change in your basal body temperature. Here are some frequently asked questions about basal body temperature and its relationship to ovulation.

What is basal body temperature?
Basal body temperature is your body temperature when you're completely at rest, according to Planned Parenthood. Most women experience a slight rise in basal body temperature -- measuring only fractions of a degree -- when they ovulate. If you take your basal body temperature properly and chart it each day, it's possible to determine if ovulation has occurred. But how can you measure such a small change in temperature? You need a basal body thermometer.

Ovulation: Pros and Cons of Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs)

Many couples rely on ovulation predictor kits, or OPKs, to identify when the woman is most fertile. OPKs can detect a surge in the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), which occurs roughly 36 hours before ovulation. By timing intercourse shortly after the LH surge, you can increase your odds of bringing sperm and egg together at the time when conception is most likely to occur.

Sounds easy, right? In a perfect world, OPKs would infallibly detect ovulation, and ovulation would inevitably lead to pregnancy. The reality is more complicated, so be sure to consider the pros and cons of OPKs before trusting your fertility exclusively to this method.

How Do I Know I'm Fertile?

Odds are with you -- only about 12 percent of women have trouble getting or staying pregnant, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Of course, you won't know for sure until you start trying to conceive, but these clues are a good indication that your body is baby-ready.

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