Your obstetrician can conduct a pre-conception health screening for you prior to your pregnancy. Such screening helps check for any existing medical condition, genetic diseases or infectious diseases that could be passed down to your baby if you get pregnant. Also, if you have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, your doctor can advise you on your long-term medications should you decide to try for a baby.
While most women and married couples are aware of antenatal care, not many are aware of the importance of pre-pregnancy care. Most couples simply assume that pre-pregnancy care is simply taking folic acid daily – that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Caring for your pregnancy often starts even before pregnancy begins hence the term “pre-pregnancy care”. This is ever more important with an increasing number of women having babies later in life. Women who give birth after the age of 35 years old, regardless of whether it is her first pregnancy, are classified as “elderly mothers”. In such cases, it is important for a couple to manage your own health even before pregnancy begins, with advice from your obstetrician during the process of planning for pregnancy.
Before trying for a baby, it is not too early to start getting your body ready for pregnancy. Be it your first or a subsequent pregnancy, it is important for you and your partner to ensure that your health is optimal to prepare for a healthy pregnancy ahead.
Ovulation is referred to as the fertile window in a woman’s reproductive cycle. Having sex during ovulation has an increased chance of pregnancy. Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from the ovary and moves down the fallopian tube for fertilisation to occur. The egg survives for 12-24 hours after leaving the ovary.
If it is successfully fertilised by a sperm within this timeframe, then conception has occurred. If there is no conception, the unfertilised egg, together with the thickened uterine lining is shed in what is known as menstruation.
Ovulation occurs on average once a month if you have a regular menstrual and ovulation cycle. It can be calculated by subtracting 12 to 16 days from your next expected period.
Some women may experience symptoms during ovulation, including a change in basal body temperature, clear cervical fluid with the consistency of ‘egg whites’, breast tenderness or increased sex drive.
Ovulation can occur regardless of whether a menstrual period has occurred. Likewise, menstruation can also take place if ovulation is absent. Reasons for delayed or absence of ovulation include stress, illness or disruption of normal routines.
If you are planning to conceive, it is important to track your cycle and identify when your ovulation window occurs.