Baby-Making Time!
July 21, 2008 12:38 AM   Subscribe

Planning on starting a family. Help me get organized!

My husband and I (I'm 27, he's 28) are planning on starting a family in the next few months. I am looking for calendar programs or printable calendars to help track periods, ovulation, temperature etc...

Any other pre-pregnancy tips that you can provide would be helpful as well. I have already started pre-natal vitamins, do not smoke and have stopped drinking.

Thanks for the help!
posted by saradarlin to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This wheel format fertility tracking calender looks like it would be a good aid. Best wishes for a happy healthy family!
posted by longsleeves at 1:11 AM on July 21, 2008

web-based calendars/tracking utilities:

Fertility Friend
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:17 AM on July 21, 2008

Buy the book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" and use the software which comes with it. The book is fantastic.
posted by k8t at 1:45 AM on July 21, 2008

Yes, Taking Charge of Your Fertility is the way to go. Buy it and read it cover to cover, then take at least one cycle off hormonal birth control and chart without trying to get pregnant. It will teach you a lot about your body. I've used Fertility Friend in the past, and it's pretty nice, too, once you know the basics.

I would skip the prenatals and instead substitute a regular multivitamin and extra folic acid. The iron in prenatals is not that bioaccessible and tends to constipate people. IANAMD, though. Omega-3 supplementation might also be in order.

Make sure your paperwork is good. Do you have a will, advance health care directive, etc? How's your money situation? If you want to take time off work, especially if all that's offered is unpaid, start saving now so that you have that cushion.

Are you happy with your ob/gyn? Have you thought about what you'll do if you can't conceive? Maybe I'm a worrywart, but when I was starting out with the whole shebang, I felt a lot better with an endpoint. (At your age, most doctors will tell you not to worry unless it's been a year, but if you have charts and evidence of well-timed intercourse, they'll be more likely to listen if you report problems sooner.) Ask your biological female relatives about their pregnancies and birth experiences. Don't take what they say as gospel about what will happen to you, but it can show trends.

Good luck, and I hope it all goes well for you.
posted by marmot at 2:23 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Find out where your ob/gyn delivers babies. Not all hospitals have the same facilities. If you want a nicer place to give birth, you may want to hospital shop a bit. Take a look at where you'll be during the delivery and postnatal recovery. A friend of ours spent the night on the hospital floor after his son was born because there were no reasonable comfortable Dad's chairs in the recovery room.

It's a bummer to find out that the ob/gyn you like only does deliveries in the hospital with sub-par facilities.
posted by 26.2 at 2:44 AM on July 21, 2008

Also, you might ask your OB or GP if there's any preconception bloodwork you might want to have done. Some docs like to do a complete blood count and a serum chemistry just to see if you have any undiagnosed conditions like anemia. A toxoplasmosis titer and a German measles titer are also common, I believe. Oh, and if you don't know if you're Rh-, you should find that out as well.
posted by marmot at 3:09 AM on July 21, 2008

I would skip the prenatals and instead substitute a regular multivitamin and extra folic acid.

This is probably a bad idea, since multivits quite often include vitamin A which isn't good for pregnant women.

Definitelt get yourself checked for German measles.

Enjoy all the sex!
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 3:18 AM on July 21, 2008

Pregnancy (and parenthood) are endurance events. Start getting decent exercise and building the muscles and mentality that can support you during 20-50 pounds of weight gain, body aches, and changes in range of motion.

Seriously consider a midwife instead of an ob/gyn. Worlds different, and better, in my experiences with both during pregnancy. Midwives have OB backups and it's possible to get "the best of both worlds." Henci Goer's "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" was really informative for me. It looks at the evidence-based support (or lack thereof) for many of the tests, interventions and approaches you will run into while pregnant.

Thirding "Taking Charge"...
posted by cocoagirl at 3:51 AM on July 21, 2008

Pre-natal vitamins are constipation machines. Why not take a normal multi-vitamin that has some folic acid in it, or just take folic acid? By the time you figure out you're pregnant, then you can switch.

Also, on the things-I-wish-I-had-done side of things: clean out your junk space (closet, garage, drawer, desk, etc.) now.
posted by k8t at 4:37 AM on July 21, 2008

I used "Taking Charge", too, and it was helpful to me to track for a couple of months just so that I knew my body's cycle a little better. Then I stopped doing it because the numbers and expectations were freaking me out, and that's the worst way to get pregnant. We got pregnant the first cycle after I let it go.

Go see your OB/GYN now and get a prescription prenatal. Apparently they have more folic than the OTC prenatals and you can get one with something in it (gentle stool softener) to combat the constipation.
posted by weezetr at 5:16 AM on July 21, 2008

This is probably a bad idea, since multivits quite often include vitamin A which isn't good for pregnant women.

Er. Vitamin A in doses greater than 10,000 IU has been correlated with increased risk of certain types of birth defects. That's not really the same thing as "vitamin A isn't good for pregnant women". In fact, vitamin A is quite important for pregnant women and vitamin A deficiency would be quite bad for bother mother and baby. It just means don't be one of those people who goes nuts and starts taking 100,000 IU of every vitamin in a misguided attempt to be healthy.

posted by Justinian at 6:43 AM on July 21, 2008

Congratulations on taking this step! There are lots of good suggestions here.

No matter what type of vitamins you decide to take, you may want to consider taking them at night before bed. Once you are knocked up (and possibly before), they make make you feel sick/pukey and taking them at night helps you to sleep through that part. I've heard that a lot of women's morning sickness reduces or goes away when they stop taking their vitamins during the day. I took mine at night mostly so I'd remember to take them and didn't have too many issues with morning sickness.

I also totally agree with k8t's suggestion to clean out the junk drawers of your life. We got rid of a lot of stuff to make room for baby things, but I'm sure we could get rid of more. During the first trimester I was too tired to do much outside of the bare minimum to work/exist. I perked up during the second trimester, but wanted to concentrate more on organizing baby stuff. Now that I'm halfway through the third trimester, I'm tired *and* I want to organize baby stuff. :)

The digital home pregnancy tests (that show the words "pregnant"/"not pregnant") are much more reassuring than reading the lines if you've never taken a test before, especially if you get faint lines.
posted by melissa at 9:02 AM on July 21, 2008

I use My Monthly Cycles. It sends me an email 2 days prior to my period and 2 days prior to my ovulation. You input the dates of your period on a calendar and it will tell you when you will likely ovulate. It gets more accurate over time, as it keeps a record of your average cycle length based on what you've input. The sickening pink seems to be the only downside.
posted by chiababe at 9:12 AM on July 21, 2008

FWIW, you will be given a copy of "what to expect when you are expecting". You will read it, and you will freak out at the myriad ways that your baby can have medical problems. That book in particular (and the genre in general) is an easy lead-in to "medical student syndrome"- so take your reading material with a HUGE grain of salt.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:40 AM on July 21, 2008

I can't say I ever had constipation issues with the prenatals, so carry on with what you're doing, if you aren't having any side effects. Why take two pills when you can take one you already like? Oh yeah, and that leads me to a related piece of advice, get used to everyone telling you what to do all the time :D

If anyone gives you a copy of "What to Expect When You are Expecting", thank them, then burn it or throw it away. Awful fear-mongering book. Try "the Panic-Free Pregnancy" instead.

Definitely seconding the suggestion to clear out junk, even if you try hard not to accumulate lots of baby stuff, you will still have more stuff around the house than you expected. Hospital/OB shopping is a great suggestion too. I suppose you should also exercise and eat more healthily, but we're heading into overly-high expectations, neurosis-inducing territory here, IMHO. You can't be perfect, you shouldn't worry about trying to do everything perfectly, just have lots of nookie and enjoy life! Go on vacation somewhere you have always wanted to go. Eat out, go see movies, have sex. Don't go insane with the charting and tracking, just read up and learn about how it works, then have sex a lot. If you don't get pregnant in 3 months, THEN go back and start charting in order to "debug" the process. Try and be happy and stress-free. Good luck!
posted by Joh at 10:06 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

BTW, Ovusoft - the charting software in the TCOYF book - has a free web-based version called Fertility Planner. Check it out here.

I've used both this and Fertility Friend. FF is faster and has more tools (in the paid version), but FP, while clunky, actually pinned ovulation correctly. Try out both.
posted by for_serious at 12:28 PM on July 21, 2008

Best answer: The one thing my wife really regrets now - two months after the birth of our daughter - is activity and her body. I would suggest if at all possible to start getting in better shape and do what you can to keep the activity level up (make sure to discuss with the doc).

Also it seems in our group of friends anyway that actually getting pregnant is not hard at all (like seriously - one time and boom), so I'm not sure you need to stress with all the charts and what not. YMMV.
posted by Big_B at 2:41 PM on July 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, for all the advise - keep it coming!

I would love to know what things you did or wish you did before your first pregnancy.

To answer a few questions... my husband and I have just moved from Vancouver (a small condo) to a house in Southern Ontario. This means that I actually have no junk to clear out, rather we have empty rooms. I have been off work since we moved a few months ago, so we are use to having only one income and I have been using my spare time to organize all life's paperwork - wills etc..

Big_B raised a good point, dropping some weight could be good for me - has anyone had any experience getting "in shape" for pregnancy? How does being overweight complicate pregnancy?
posted by saradarlin at 7:41 PM on July 21, 2008

Overweight women are more likely to have c-sections. I think this is because of the increased risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. For me (an overweight woman), I was induced because of my high blood pressure, which ultimately led to c-section. Looking back, I now wish I had taken diet and exercise more seriously. I imagine that getting in shape for pregnancy is just like getting in shape for any other reason.

In terms of regrets, I also wish that I had seriously thought out my garden before my daughter was born and had done some of the heavy infrastructure work/planting before she was born so that I could have a lower maintenance garden now. This is really the only thing I am kicking myself on. Well that, and not getting my MBA, but I didn't realize I should have got an MBA until after my kid was born, so that doesn't count.

If you are Canadian shouldn't you be getting back to work? Don't you have to have X number of hours working so that you can claim EI benefits for maternity leave? I'd get on that.

I didn't bother charting, and I'm happy with that decision. Having lots of sex is fun. Do that.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:58 PM on July 21, 2008

I have one huge pre-pregnancy tip. Don't assume it will happen right away when you do start trying. So don't stress, enjoy the trying, and see it as a long-ish process, not one that will necessarily happen within a matter of a few months. Unfortunately, it's something that we can't control to a certain degree, even if you are 'taking charge of your fertility', unlike pretty much everything else in our lives. And yes, schedule an appointment with a doctor to screen for HIV, measles, chicken pox, TSH levels, etc.
posted by ms.v. at 10:01 PM on July 21, 2008

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