By Guest Blogger Elizabeth Sasso Smith

Although we have a plethora of incredible hospitals and OBs around town, sometimes the best advice can be from other moms. When my husband and I were ready to start trying to get pregnant, I went to my annual appointment with my OB-GYN hoping to get the low-down. Instead I was told to take a prenatal vitamin, go off my birth control and good luck. Huh?! That’s it?! No that’s not it! That is why we have each other. There is no one better to fill you in on what to do then a community of women who have all been there before. Whether you are working on your first pregnancy or number two, three or four the tips below are things every women should know.

Pre-Natal Vitamins
Three months prior to trying to have a baby you should be taking pre-natal vitamins every day. Aside from the benefits of a multi-vitamin in your diet, pre-natal vitamins contain an important ingredient, Folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that is critical in preventing a very serious birth defect, neural tube defect or Spina Bifida. Folic acid can only help to prevent the birth defect if it is taken prior to pregnancy and during the first weeks of pregnancy. It is even more important for mother’s in North Carolina, as our region of the country has a higher rate of neural tube defects. Visit the North Carolina Folic Acid Council for more information.

Lose the weight
I have always been heavy, so when I went to my doctor I asked what the additional risks were for overweight women in getting pregnant. I was told that it was really no different then the potential health risks that overweight women face when they are not pregnant. Well, at 29 the only health risk I had experienced as a result of being overweight was low self esteem, so no worries. Then I became an overweight pregnant women and everything changed. Now every single symptom I experienced was answered with, “Well this is more common among overweight women.”

When to go off the pill? Or the ring, or the patch or the IUD or……. The best thing you can do here is ask your doctor. Whether at an annual exam prior to trying or simply by calling and asking to speak to your doctor’s nurse. You are a patient all of the time, not only when you are pregnant. You should never be concerned that you are bothering your doctor’s office by asking a question that pertains to your health or the health of your baby. If you are left feeling like you were a bother then you may need to look for a doctor’s office that better suits your needs. According to the March of Dimes there is no predetermined time that you should be off of birth control prior to trying to conceive. If you are concerned, consider stopping your birth control and using condoms until you are sure that you are ready.

Ahh that special time when the moment is just right or almost right at least. The best way to increase your odds of getting pregnant is to know when you are ovulating. You start with the first day of your last period (if you don’t know, then starting tracking it at your first opportunity) and how many days typically pass before your next period. The average is 28, with that average most women ovulate 14 days after the first day of their period. If the average length of time between your periods is more like 35 days, you may not start to ovulate until 15 or 16 days after your first period. There are other ways to determine when you are ovulating and plenty of websites that want to help you to figure it out as well as multiple apps. Give an ovulation calculator a try (just Google it) and it will at least give you a hint as to when you should try.

18 Months
That’s right – for those of us who are already mommies – the general rule of thumb is to not consider trying again until your body has had 18 months to recover. Not to mention for you to use that time to catch up on sleep and laundry. There are various reasons why this time frame does not work for some families, such as the age of the mother. If you are considering pregnancy sooner then 18 months after the birth of your first child you should contact your doctor to discuss any potential risks specific to you, based on your previous pregnancy and delivery.

What other tips can you share?