To say my daughter was planned would be an understatement. When we were still dating, I told my now-husband that my greatest dream was to be a parent and if my nieces and nephews didn’t like him when they met him, it would be a signal that he wasn’t the one for me. Thankfully for him, they adore him (as does the rest of my family).
Once we were married, we started talking about planning our family. But we were both still getting our undergrad degrees and I had aspirations of grad school. So we made a deal – we would wait five years to get our degrees and make sure we were financially, mentally and emotionally stable before trying to conceive.
Nearly five years after these initial conversations I was ready to schedule an appointment to get my IUD removed. But I couldn’t contain my excitement so as I waited for those last few months to tick by I scoured the internet for “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (I’m a planner) and discovered there was also a “What to Expect Before You’re Expecting.” It had never crossed my mind that there were things my partner and I should consider before trying to conceive…After all, those silly sex ed teachers spend all their time talking about how to prevent pregnancy, but no time talking about how to prepare for pregnancy. Note: I’m one of those silly sex ed teachers!
If you’re planning to get pregnant, it’s always a good idea to see your provider in advance. While many people don’t schedule these visits, doctors can:
- Help you know what to expect when you stop taking your birth control. For almost all methods of birth control (the Depo shot not included) you could get pregnant as soon as your next menstrual cycle. And of course, if you’ve been taking hormonal birth control, you may see a shift in your period when you stop taking it.
- Encourage you to take pre-natal vitamins that include Folic Acid for up to a year before trying to conceive so those important vitamins can build up in your body to support both you and your baby during pregnancy.
- Explain how to know when you’re fertile and when is a good time to have sex (if you’re planning on planning your sex life). Once an egg is released it only lives for 24 hours, but sperm can live in the reproductive tract for up to five days – they’re wily little buggers!
- Screen you and your partner for any conditions that could make it difficult for you to conceive.
- Answer any questions and concerns you or your partner may have.
Many of them also counsel patients that if they’re trying to get pregnant, they should act like they are pregnant already. This includes being aware of how substances like medications, drugs or alcohol can affect a developing fetus as these substances can have an effect before a person even knows they’re pregnant!
Bridgercare offers pre-conception counseling appointments on a sliding fee scale as well as birth control for folks who aren’t looking to add to their family currently. Give us a call at 406-587-0681 or schedule online at Bridgercare.org/schedule.
Written by Cami Armijo-Grover. Cami has been the Education Director at Bridgercare (Montana’s largest family planning clinic) for four years. When not answering questions like, “Does having an STI make you undesirable?” “How do you handle a crush?” and “Is virginity real?” she can be found reveling in the joys of parenting a three-year-old, except when said three-year-old has a temper tantrum in public. No one enjoys those!