5 Things You Should Know Before Planning a Pregnancy | Preconception Health
If you’re watching this video, then odds are that you haven’t started trying to get pregnant yet. And that you’ve just started to research so that you are ready when the time comes. Maybe you just got married and you know that you want to be a mom in the future, and you want to start to prepare your body now, aside from taking some cheap prenatal vitamins from the drug store.
First of all, I want to congratulate you. Preconception planning. Being ready when your time comes and you’re ready to start a family is one of the most important things and one of the smartest things that you can be doing now to prepare your body for the future. I want your journey to parenthood to be as easy as possible. So let’s get started with the five tips that you should be considering in your preconception planning.
My name is Dr. Marc Sklar, also known as The Fertility Expert, and welcome to Fertility TV, your YouTube channel dedicated to helping you get pregnant. I’ve been helping couples for over 18 years get pregnant with my online coaching programs that help you wherever you are in the world. And for those of you lucky enough to be here in San Diego, at both of my clinics. And one of the things that I have learned is that preconception planning is one of the most important things that you can be doing. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
I do want to make an announcement before we get started, that my Hope Fertility Coaching Program is open for enrollment. So if you want some personalized attention on your fertility needs, or you feel like you need a little bit more support to get you the results that you’re looking for, then I want to encourage you and invite you to apply to join my program. All you have to do is use the link in the description below.
This is the first video, the first one in a mini-series that I am creating and devoting towards preconception health. That’s how important this topic is. And for those of you who are watching my videos for the first time, from time to time, I do look down at my notes. I’ve got my trusted computer here that I have taken my notes down because I don’t want to forget anything that I want to share with all of you. So on occasion, you’ll see me look down. Don’t worry about that. That’s just me checking out my notes.
What is preconception health? Well, let’s break that down. Pre is before. It means before. So in this case, before you start trying. And conception is the act of getting pregnant. So in this case, intercourse and the act of the sperm and egg meeting to create an embryo. And health is the state of physical and mental wellbeing. When we put that all together, there’s a lot for us to consider. Preconception health has to incorporate many different aspects of what we need to do in different areas to get you ready to get pregnant.
We all know that physical health, mental health, lifestyle, diet, all these variables of the mother and father, the intending mother and father, the parents, are important variables to consider and address when we’re trying to get pregnant. They’re not only important for your overall health as a parent, but they’re also very important for the future health of your child. And for those of you who aren’t aware, actually fertility issues are becoming more common every year. So the act of getting pregnant is not as easy as we might think, or we’ve been made to believe. So this Fertility TV, this video and the video series overall is going to be dedicated to helping you prepare your body now so that when you’re ready to get pregnant, it’s as easy as possible.
Let’s get into the five things that you need to be looking at, or considering when you’re trying to plan for a pregnancy in the future. And in this case, your preconception health.
Tip number one or the first step is that getting pregnant isn’t as easy as you might think, or you’ve been made to believe. And I want to give you some statistics. And again, I don’t say this to scare you. I want you to have knowledge because I want you to use that knowledge for power to make change moving forward. Infertility is increasing, like I mentioned previously. And the use of assisted reproductive technologies, also known as ART, or otherwise, for those of you who don’t know, IUI, so inseminations, or IVF, in vitro fertilization by infertile couples is increasing by five to 10% every year. That’s a big number to be increasing every year. It tells us one of a couple things. One is infertility or the difficulty in conception is increasing, or we’re becoming so used to the availability of ART techniques that we go there much quicker, much sooner than we ever thought we should or ever considered. Now both of those have different implications, but that’s why we’re talking about preconception planning, because I want to make it as easy as possible so you don’t have to go there.
The other statistic that’s really important is about 10% of women, so 6.1 million in the United States, ages between 15 and 44, having difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. That’s right. 6 million women in the United States are having difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, which means they might have reoccurring pregnancy loss. That’s a huge number. I didn’t make up this number. This actually came from the CDC. So it tells us how prevalent this is.
And we also know that poor nutrition increase or decreased, for that matter, BMI. So body mass index. Smoking, excessive alcohol and drug use, these are all contributing factors that make it much harder to get pregnant when you’re ready to start trying. I say this because I don’t want you to assume that it’s going to be straightforward when you’re ready to start having a family. I want you to start to plan now. And again, I don’t want to say these things so that you’re scared or fearful. No. I want this to be educational. If you know that some of these areas are already areas of concern, your diet may be low, exercise, your weight could be improved, you smoke or use drugs, now is the time… In this space when you’re not trying yet, the preconception. Remember, before you start trying. Now is the time for you to make changes so that you’re ready and prepared when the time comes.
The second step, the second thing that I want you to do is prepare for your pregnancy like it was the most important thing that you’ve ever done in your life. What’s the most important thing that you’ve ever done and accomplished in your life. I actually want to hear from all of you. I want you to comment below and let me know what have all of you really strived for and accomplished? Maybe it was making a team, a sports team, maybe it was graduating from high school or college, or getting your master’s degree or doctorate, whatever it might be. Maybe it was a job that you were trying to achieve. Maybe it wasn’t any of those things. Maybe it was a hobby like you’re ready to run a marathon. For all of those things, you didn’t just show up on that day and accomplish and succeed, or at least not for most of us.
So this is something like a marathon. We want to prepare. We want to plan. We want to have a process to being successful. You wouldn’t just show up on that day of the marathon and run and expect to be successful or finish it. It would be really difficult.
We’ve just seen all these new private rocket ships launching to space. They didn’t just build a rocket ship yesterday, put it out on the platform today and expect it to work and go into space. That didn’t happen. What they did was plan, in their case for some time, for years, and prepare with lots of trial and error. I want to minimize the trial and error for all of you, but that requires planning and preparation. And I don’t expect that planning and preparation to take years like it did to shoot a rocket into space, but I do think it’s going to take a little bit of time so that you can be ready to move forward. Part of that planning and preparation actually requires you and your partner to communicate. You both need to or should be on the same page.
So I want you both to sit down; what’s your family planning looking like? How many kids do you want? When do you want them? By what timeframe? What do you need to do now individually and as a household to help you get there, whether it’s financially, health-wise, mentally, whatever it might be? What is it that you guys need to do? And I want you both to be on the same page. What do you and your partner want your family to look like? Not just the creation of it, not just having the babies physically, but what do you want your family to look like in the future? These are all important things that need to be discussed and are often not. So I don’t want you to forget about these things, preparation, planning. That’s how we achieve the success that we want.
The third thing that I want you to do, guess what it is. For all of you who’ve watched my videos, I am sure you know it’s coming at some point. Well, it’s coming now. Get tested. I don’t want any of you to guess what’s wrong, or guess if there is an issue. I want you to get tested now. And that means both of you, you and your partner. Both of you need to get tested. It shows one, your commitment to the process, it shows your commitment to each other, and it shows that you are ready to make change, but change can’t be made unless we know what needs to be changed. And the way we know what needs to be changed is by getting tested. So we don’t have to go crazy in the beginning.
Again, this is preconception planning, but most of us don’t have regular lab work done. So first and foremost, we need to have some general basic lab tests done. We need to make sure that our iron levels are working properly. That they’re high enough. We need to make sure that our cholesterol normals are healthy. We need to make sure that our blood sugar is healthy. We need to make sure that we don’t have any inflammation. We need to make sure that our thyroid is functioning properly. These are all basic labs that all of us should have done.
On top of that, we need to have our basic reproductive tests done as well. For a man, I’m going to start there because it’s easier to talk about it. We just need to have a semen analysis done. Now, if it’s normal, awesome. Nothing more to think about. If it’s abnormal, then we can start to do some hormone testing as well.
For women, we do want to make sure that we have two basic labs done. Well, one is a scan. So it’s called an HSG. It’s making sure that your fallopian tubes are open and ready for the sperm and egg to meet each other because that’s where they meet. Is in the tube. The second one is blood work. So we want to make sure that we have enough eggs, that the egg quality is healthy, that our hormones are balanced. And so some of those tests would be FSH, LH, estradiol. I do have many other videos on blood tests. And as part of this mini-series, I am going to be going in depth, more in depth on blood testing as well and lab work as well. So hang tight. Don’t worry about it. But if you want to check out those other videos before I produce the next video in this mini-series, then you can check out some of those videos right here.
Additionally, when it comes to testing, if you already know that you have a health issue, then I want you to talk to your healthcare provider about that and pregnancy. Let them know that you want to get pregnant. How does that health impact your ability to conceive? That might require you to get some additional testing done as well. And then once you get those labs back, I encourage you, reach out to a fertility coach to have them evaluate your labs so that you can get a second opinion, or a first opinion for that matter, on what everything looks like and if there are changes that need to be done. My team and I are here to support you if you want us to support you in that manner, but the most important thing is that you have somebody with experience in fertility, looking at those labs.
And remember the way most fertility coaches, at least in our office look at things, is we look at things from a functional perspective. We want to make sure that your reproductive system and your body are functioning optimally. So it’s not just that your labs are in the normal range. We want them in the optimal range to make sure you can get pregnant as quickly as possible.
All right, now that we’ve gotten through step number three, I want to ask all of you, how many of you in the preconception phase of things have already had some blood work done? Comment below and let me know. I want to hear from you.
Now, let’s move into step number four, which is tracking your cycle. One of the most important things that you’re going to do and one of the most basic things that you’re going to do is understanding your body and your menstrual cycle. Most of you don’t understand what it’s supposed to look like, what a normal cycle is, and when you ovulate and how to track any of those things. They just don’t teach you that in school. That’s what we want to do. How are you going to track your cycles? Are you going to use an app? Are you going to use basal body temperature? What are you going to do?
My preference for everyone beginning, because it gives you a better understanding of your body and your menstrual cycle and your reproductive function, is I want you to do basal body temperature charting, or BBT. This is when you track your basal temperature, which is your resting temperature. So first thing in the morning, before you move, you take your temperature and you track how your temperature is changing over the course of your cycle. In the beginning part of your cycle, it’s going to be lower, in ovulation it’s going to have a little dip, and then it’s going to go up and stay higher from there. If you’re pregnant, it’s going to go up a little bit higher. If you’re not, it’s going to come down. That signals the start of your next cycle. That’s the first thing I want to do.
And then we need to make sure you’re having a regular healthy cycle. So how many days is your cycle? When I say that, what I mean is how many days from day one to one? 28 days, 30 days, what is that going to be? And then how many days is your menstruation, your bleed? That’s just the bleeding period. Four days, three days, five days. What is it? Do you spot before? How is it when you ovulate? Do you have any discomfort? I want you to start to track these things. Do you have cervical mucus? When do you have it? Does it change? What does it change and look like? I just want you all to get familiar with your body and what it’s telling you. Your body’s always talking to you. I want you to know what it’s saying. If you want to know more about how to track your cycles, what BBT charting is, and the 12 other areas affecting your health and your fertility, then I created a training that you can check out. All you’ve to do is use the link right here, or use the link in the description below.
Tip number five, we made it, preconception plan. That’s right. Is a preconception plan appropriate for you? It’s not appropriate for everybody. For some of you, it’s enough to start to understand your body. Do these labs, start to plan and prepare with your partner and understand when you want to start to try. And start to improve your overall health in little ways leading up to that time when you’re ready to try. For some of you, you might get labs back and recognize that there are some things that need to be supported and need a little bit more care and attention, or you might already know that you have a pre-existing condition that needs more time to address so that you can be ready to get pregnant. Those of you who fall into those categories, you need and would benefit from a preconception plan. And that’s what my Hope Fertility Coaching Program can offer you. So if you want more information on that, or you’re ready to apply, just use the link in the description below.
In this video series that I’m putting out for all of you, I’m going to talk about some key areas that you need to look at in your preconception planning. Some of the basic lifestyle changes that I’m going to talk about is what do you need to do diet wise? What sort of exercise should you be doing? How much of it you should be doing and when. And as I mentioned before, testing. We want to always test and not guess. So I’m going to make sure you know what you need to be testing and when you need to be doing it so you can get the right answers today to make sure you’re ready tomorrow.
One last thing. I hear so often from so many members in the program, “I wish I reached out earlier. I’m just going to wait one more cycle.” Or, “I’m just going to give it a few more months.” Or, “I think I’m pregnant. So I’m going to wait.” And invariably, for many of you, you wish you had reached out sooner. If you know there’s an issue, if you know you need support, get support now so that it can be easier for you when the time comes and when you’re ready to get pregnant.
Remember, I’m leaving you a great free training where I go over the 12 areas that you need to be focusing on to make sure you’re ready for a healthy pregnancy. It’s called the Fertility Wheel. So in the description below is the link for that. I want you to check it out. If you’re ready to become a mom and you’re serious about it, then go through that so that you can start to create your own fertility plan and be ready when the time comes. If you liked this video, give me a thumbs up and I want to hear from you. Comment below, let me know what you enjoyed from video.
Additionally, if you’re not already a subscriber to my YouTube channel, then you should be. I put out a new video every week for all of you to help you get pregnant. So hit that bell right over there to subscribe and get notified when I put out a new video. And until the next video, stay fertile.