Step 1: Assess Your Current Birth Control.
There are a few things you should consider before jumping into bed—and into pregnancy. Women should take the time to evaluate their overall physical health, their birth control method, learn a little bit about their cycle, and educate themselves on reproductive sex. These 5 "baby" steps will help.
When 36-year-old Joanna Strong-Millsap of Redlands, California, chose to start her family she was concerned about her age and the synthetic hormones she had been taking as birth control. "I had been told by my doctor that it could easily take six months for all of the residual effects of the synthetic hormones to work their way out of my system and for my period to become 'normal,'" Millsap says. "I quit taking birth control pills in February and didn't have a period in March. I had a period in April and then two weeks later, I had one day of cramps and spotting."
The up and down of her periods confused Millsap and her husband, but persistence paid off and she was soon able to conceive their first child.
There is conflicting information regarding how long you should wait to conceive after birth control pills are stopped. Dr. Kenneth Burry, vice-chair of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland, Oregon, believes the commonsense approach is best. "There is some concern that the miscarriage rate may be higher the first cycle after stopping the birth control pill, but you should not be overly concerned if pregnancy occurs immediately, since most will continue without problems," Dr. Burry says.
Depo-provera, on the other hand, is long acting and may disrupt normal cycles for more than six months. Dr. Burry says there is a concern of an increased incidence of birth defects if exposed to this progestin during early pregnancy. He suggests that women should seek medical advice if menstrual cycles have not returned to normal within two months after ceasing birth control pills or six months from the last Depo-provera shot.
"All women trying to conceive should be taking a multiple vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid," Dr. Burry says. "This will reduce the incidence of birth defects in half. She should also be immunized against rubella and be current on pap smears."
Making an appointment with your doctor is a good starting point for those looking to conceive. General health can be checked, supplements can be discussed, and any questions concerning fertility cycles can be addressed.