Have a conversation before a baby.

Pregnancy is a huge decision. Responsibilities, commitments and bellies all grow with a new baby. So it’s important to make sure you’re ready on all levels before and if you get pregnant.

Things to consider about Pregnancy

  • Yes. Ovulation is that special time of the month (no, not THAT one) when your egg is viable and in prime position for fertilization. Ovulation usually lasts about 12–24 hours, which isn’t long. But here’s the kicker, sperm can actually live in your body for three to six days after sex. So if you do the math, getting frisky a few days before ovulation can in fact lead to pregnancy because there’s a chance some sperm will still be hanging around when you ovulate. So even though you only ovulate for 12–24 hours a month, there is a full week of time when you are fertile and could potentially get pregnant.

    Tracking ovulation can actually be pretty easy if you are willing to pay attention to your body and a calendar. Some women track their ovulation to avoid pregnancy by abstaining or using barrier contraceptive methods during that time while others track to increase their chances of getting pregnant. Whatever your purpose, there are many methods for identifying ovulation and surely one to fit your lifestyle. Most women ovulate about halfway through their menstrual cycle, so if you want to determine when you are most likely to conceive, a pregnancy ovulation calendar or ovulation calculator is an easy place to start. There are lots of free ones online like this one, this one and this one.

    Another simple and inexpensive ovulation detection method is charting your basal body temperature. There are special basal body thermometers (available at the drug store) that are designed for use right after you wake up, before doing ANYTHING. The long and short of this technique is that your body temp will spike right after ovulation. So if you track your temperature the same way every day for a couple of months, you will get a good idea for when you’re most likely to get pregnant.

    A few other options include cervical examination (your cervix opens slightly during ovulation), looking at your cervical mucus (it gets thinner and more slippery as you approach ovulation), or buying an ovulation predictor kit. These kits are basically like pregnancy tests, but instead of testing for the pregnancy hormone in your pee, they measure the one that announces “ovulation ahead!”

  • Immediate Medicaid insurance may be available for pregnant women to assist with prenatal, delivery and postpartum care. Women whose family income is 200% of the federal poverty level (which means a yearly income of about $48,600 for a family of four and around $23,760 for an individual woman in 2016 are eligible.

    If you are in Colorado and would like to find out if you might be eligible for Medicaid (pregnant or not) go to the Colorado Peak website and click on the “Am I Eligible?” button. You can also apply for Medicaid insurance at the Colorado Peak website.

    If you are in Michigan and would like to find out more about Medicaid, go to the MI Bridges website, and if you would like to know more about Northern Michigan’s Health Insurance Marketplace, go to Enroll Northern Michigan

  • If you’re pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, you should talk to your health care provider to discuss any medications that you are currently taking. You are advised to consult with a doctor or nurse before taking any supplement or over-the-counter or prescription medication. Some medications can be “teratogenic” meaning they can be harmful to a developing fetus.

    In general, foods with a high risk of causing food-borne illness should be avoided by pregnant women. These include raw juices and milk products, soft cheeses, uncooked deli meats and raw fish. Fish that contain high amounts of mercury, like tuna fish, should be limited.

  • Smoking during pregnancy can increase the risks that a baby will be born at a lower-than-healthy weight at birth. Also, when you smoke or are exposed to smoke while pregnant, all the toxins from the smoke go straight into your bloodstream and placenta—your future baby’s source of nutrients and oxygen—which can cause serious health concerns, as well. If you are considering becoming pregnant, it is a good time to quit using tobacco and /or smoking. Talking with a doctor and utilizing a local quitline are excellent ways to make a plan that works for you. If you are already pregnant, talk with your doctor about your concerns and work together to create a quit plan for the health of you and your developing baby.

    In terms of alcohol, no amount has been proven safe while pregnant. Alcohol use while pregnant is actually the number one cause of mental retardation in newborns. And it can also cause a whole slew of other health problems, so it is definitely the smart choice to stick to non-alcoholic beverages if you are planning on becoming pregnant or are currently expecting.

  • Planning for pregnancy, even before you’re ready to start a family, can have a positive impact on your health and your future baby’s health. Women and men should prepare for pregnancy before becoming sexually active, or at least three months before getting pregnant. This is referred to as preconception care. The five most important things you can do for preconception health are:

    1. Take 400 to 800 micrograms (400 to 800 mcg or 0.4 to 0.8 mg) of folic acid every day if you are planning or capable of pregnancy. This will lower your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine, including spina bifida. All women need folic acid every day. Talk to your doctor about your folic acid needs. Some doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins that contain higher amounts of folic acid.
    2. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
    3. If you have a medical condition, be sure it is under control. Some conditions that can affect pregnancy or be affected by it include asthma, diabetes, oral health, obesity, or epilepsy.
    4. Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are using. These include dietary or herbal supplements. Be sure your vaccinations are up to date.
    5. Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials that could cause infection at work and at home. Stay away from chemicals and cat or rodent feces.

    Your weight is also an issue to consider. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, women who are obese during pregnancy have a higher risk than normal-weight women of having babies with certain birth defects, including neural tube defects such as spina bifida, heart problems, and cleft palate and lip.

  • In general, if you are pregnant, a urine test (available at most grocery and drug stores) will show positive about 2-3 weeks after intercourse, or around the time that you miss your period. If you think you may be pregnant and have a late period, but a urine test is negative, you can get a blood test from a health care provider or simply wait a few days and do another urine test if your period has not started.

    Many health centers provide walk-in pregnancy testing. So if this is something you’re looking for, use our Health Center Locator to find one near you.

  • A urine or blood test for pregnancy is the only way to know for sure if you are pregnant or not. There are a couple of primary, common symptoms you may experience if you’re pregnant. But keep in mind, these symptoms are by no means an accurate test for whether you are expecting.

    1. Missed period. Although some women mistake slight bleeding at the time implantation happens as a light period.
    2. Morning sickness or nausea. However not all women experience this.
    3. Breast tenderness. But again, this can also occur prior to a menstrual period.
  • On average, a new baby will cost parents about $10,000 during his or her first year of life. And those costs go up significantly if a baby needs equipment for special needs or health care services. If you want to find out how much it costs to have a baby, you can discover the true first-year total with this eye-opening calculator.

    Bringing a baby home and getting him or her settled obviously requires you to invest in some new supplies, furniture and equipment. Other costs to consider: 1) Childcare for when you’re at work or away for other activities. 2) A backup plan if you or your childcare provider gets sick. 3) A backup plan for your backup plan. Babies are unpredictable, and planning for the unexpected is crucial.

    Just remember, babies don’t stay babies forever. They grow into children who have financial needs as well. The cost of raising a child born in 2013 from birth to age 18 for a middle-income, two-parent family averaged $304,480 (not including college or any of the extras such as braces, sports uniforms, camp, vacations, etc.). The cost of raising a child to age 18 has increased 40% over the past decade. And don’t forget your own health care costs for prenatal care, delivery and postnatal care. Those are big expenses too, even if you have good insurance.

  • Even when you have the money or the help you need, babies and children require an incredible amount of time and energy. Placing a child’s physical and emotional needs before your own is a necessity. Do you have a support system in place to help support you as a new parent? Who will help you out when you need a break? Being the best parent you can be means knowing how and when to ask for help, and having friends and family in place who will be there for you.

    As the baby grows, so do his or her needs, and money is just one part of it. Children and toddlers need plenty of exercise, healthy food and enriching experiences in order to thrive and grow. The first few years of a child’s life are when rapid brain growth and development occurs. This is the time to help your child reach full potential, so read lots of books, sing, dance and provide a healthy and stimulating life. This also means building a strong environment that nurtures safety and emotional security for your child.

  • Consider what it will feel like to place some of your own dreams on hold or experience them differently. Finishing college, settling into a new home or starting a new job or business will be a lot more difficult if you’re also supporting a child. These are all crucial considerations that you should think about and discuss with your partner, friends, family and health care provider before becoming pregnant. Your whole life will change, so being ready and setting your timing is key.