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Actual Planning


So you’ve stopped freaking out and reading every site known to man on reproduction. Now what? Here are a few things that I found very settling that made me feel like I had some momentum and control over the situation:

  • Decide when you are taking your last birth control pill (aka “Pulling the Goalie”). My doctor told me that this should be approximately 3 months prior to when you want to start trying to get pregnant. She also told me, however, that you can get pregnant immediately so do not pull the goalie until you are ready to commit to being pregnant, just in case you are in that small percentage of people who do get pregnant in that first 3 months off birth control.
  • If you have an appointment with your OBGYN coming up, write down a list of questions with your partner to ask your doctor when you go in to see them. Write down the responses and share them with your partner. If you do not have an appointment, this is optional, but I think it’s a good idea to go in to someone you know and trust to discuss your concerns and your specific medical history. My OBGYN provided me with samples of five different prenatal vitamins to try. This ended up being a really great thing – see next bullet.
  • Find a prenatal vitamin that works for you and begin taking it at least 3 months before you conceive. Here is what the Mayo Clinic has to say about prenatal vitamins ( I started mine 2 weeks before I went off birth control. I say that “works for you” because 4 of the 5 I tried made me feel extremely nauseous and if you’re going to be dealing with morning sickness, you do not need your vitamins making you sick as well. I ended up selecting gel tabs which were available from Costco (NatureMade) at a reasonable price and contained DHA (aka Omega-3s). It’s worth noting that I was mostly vegetarian for 4 years prior to this so Omega-3s from fish were not really an option for me – and with the restrictions on eating fish while pregnant this is probably not an option for you either. To address a concern from my doctor that I get a varied source of protein, I decided to start eating chicken again. It is certainly possible to have a healthy pregnancy while vegetarian, but it is much harder and requires a very strict nutritional regiment.
  • Take an inventory of the prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements that you take and look them all up on to see what the FDA pregnancy category ( is. Only you can decide what risks you are willing to take to continue with your current medications. Personally, I decided to go cold turkey off of all my medicines including my allergy meds and my acid reflux meds within one week of going off birth control.
  • Make a list of all your toiletries. Shampoos, conditioners, soaps, face wash, lotions, makeup, deodorant, makeup remover, perfume, tooth paste, hair styling products, etc. Check the ingredients in them against this list:
  • Garner a basic understanding of what you can and cannot eat while pregnant. I’m talking high level stuff like: no alcohol, no raw fish, seafood high in mercury, unpasteurized cheeses like feta and brie, undercooked eggs, excess caffeine, herbal tea, and deli meat that isn’t steaming. ( You then have to make a choice, like with the medications, do you want to eat as though you are pregnant just in case you get pregnant and don’t know about it for up to 6 weeks?
  • If you work, and let’s be honest, how many of us in this day and age can really have the luxury of a single income household? Call or email Human Resources – preferably email so you have a paper trail. You may not be ready to proclaim to the world that you are trying to have a baby, but HR staff are required by law to keep your secret if asked in a professional environment (i.e., not by the water cooler). I confirmed both my company’s policies on maternity leave and those of the government with my HR person. If you live in California, we have Paid Family Leave. ( which entitles women to 6 weeks of partially paid leave (see table based on your income for what your take home would be). This leave can be taken directly following the 12 weeks of job-guaranteed Family Medical Leave Act time ( which runs concurrently with your disability after the birth. Some companies require you to use your sick and vacation time to bring your paycheck to the full amount while you are on partial pay from the government. You should confirm with your HR department if this is the case with your company. Then you need to determine how much time you can afford to take off while paying your bills and avoiding the cost of daycare.
  • If you have a cat, avoid dealing with the litter. This one was one of the very first things my OBGYN told me when I asked her questions about getting pregnant.
  • Get a flu shot and whatever other shots are in vogue this year (whooping-cough? H1N1?). Most of these shots are not advisable for pregnant women, and neither is getting sick while pregnant.

I will generally try to avoid such long posts! One parting thought on pregnancy: it’s real, it’s daily, and it’s stressful, but women have also been having babies for generations and somehow most of them have turned out alright.

Now you’re all ready to get pregnant… Let’s Do This Thing!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate c. permalink
    05/03/2011 01:24

    I would also remind your readers that midwives are also a wonderful choice for a care provider for a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy!
    Oh and flu shots are definitely recommended for pregnant women! Yes, better to get it before, but if/when you’re still pregnant the next flu season -get the shot!! 1 out of 25 pregnant women who got h1n1 died last outbreak, and that was a fairly mild flu!! Yikes!


  1. The Best Laid Plans: My Birth Story « An Engineer's Approach to Pregnancy & Parenting

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