Before you get pregnant
Concerning your Health
By Dr. Peter Klemin
When should I stop taking birth control if I want to become pregnant in the next six months?
There is no magic bullet that determines when you become pregnant after stopping birth control. Most women conceive within 12 months of stopping any type of reversible birth control. If you’ve been using birth control pills, you can begin ovulating as soon as two weeks after stopping the pill. However, for some women, it takes longer. With certain types of long-term birth control, such as progestin implants or injections, return to fertility usually takes a little longer. It is easier to estimate your ovulation cycle and a due date if you complete a menstrual cycle before you attempt to get pregnant. There is no evidence that you need to be birth control free for any particular period of time before trying to conceive. If you prefer to wait a few months between stopping birth control and getting pregnant, use a non-hormonal or natural form of birth control in the interim.
When should I start taking a prenatal vitamin?
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin supplement and that all women of childbearing age take a multivitamin supplement containing 800 micrograms of folic acid daily to reduce risk of neural tube defects. Insufficient folic acid can affect a baby’s brain and spinal cord development within the first 28 days of pregnancy when many women don’t even realize yet they are pregnant. Folic acid, iron and calcium, which are considered especially important during pregnancy, are among many necessary vitamins and minerals contained in prenatal supplements. While prenatal supplements supply vital nutrients, they don’t contain everything you need in your diet. It’s still very important to eat healthily prior to and during pregnancy.
Do prenatal vitamins contain DHA?
Some prenatal supplements contain DHA and some companies sell DHA in a combo pack with their prenatal vitamin. Or you can purchase DHA separately. DHA (omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid) is necessary during pregnancy for your baby’s brain development and vision. Read labels to be sure the one you purchase contains 200 milligrams of DHA, which is what is recommended for pregnant women Most adult women average 70 mg or less daily.
Should I see an OB/GYN before I get pregnant if I have a chronic disease or other health-related problems?
Yes. If you are on medication for chronic conditions such as hypertension, asthma or diabetes, it’s important that your health condition is well controlled before you become pregnant. If you are on long-term prescription medications for any healthcare conditions, your OB/GYN may recommend adjusting your medications before and during pregnancy. Your OB/GYN can also explain what you need to know to keep yourself and your baby healthy during pregnancy.
Peter Klemin, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist, sees female patients in need of obstetrics and gynecology expertise at Sanford Obstetrics & Gynecology in Bismarck. He is a graduate of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences at Grand Forks, and completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics in Madison.