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Kick starting the journey to conception

Posted April 7, 2017 12:46 p.m. EDT
Updated May 26, 2017 12:16 p.m. EDT

Life is always a journey, and starting a family is one of the most rewarding and challenging journeys an individual or couple will face.

This article was written for our sponsor, Atlantic Reproductive Medicine Specialists.

Every journey starts somewhere.

Most microbreweries start as daydreams, followed by incremental steps of progress, along with a few crushing defeats, before opening their doors to the public.

Our favorite characters, from Harry Potter to Bojack Horseman move through journeys of self-discovery. And, many 20- and 30-some things are going through the journey of finding the right career.

Life is always a journey, and starting a family is one of the most rewarding and challenging journeys an individual or couple will face.

Preconception Counseling

Choosing to have a baby is an exciting step in a couple’s life.

And just as you’ve likely thoroughly researched jobs before applying, or scouted neighborhoods and apartments before making a commitment, preconception counseling is a way for families to get off on the right foot to be fully emotionally and practically prepared.

Before a couple starts to try, we do not know whether it will be a marathon or a sprint," said Dr. Susannah Copland, of Atlantic Reproductive Medicine Specialists. "Healthy habits -- such as sleeping, eating and exercising well -- and maintaining activities that bring joy -- movies, date nights, museum trips -- are good for both men and women on a fertility journey, no matter how short or how long."

She added, "Healthy preconception habits benefit men and women and set them up for good health during and after pregnancy."

Copland recommends patients undergo their preconception counseling session approximately three to six months before they plan to try to conceive.

Preconception counseling more than often takes place at the patient's preferred fertility clinic and is, essentially, a one-on-one meeting where you and your doctor can establish a relationship and get a better idea of your overall health.

"Our goal is the delivery of a healthy baby from a healthy mom," explained Dr. David Walmer, of Atlantic Reproductive. "To reach this goal, we need to evaluate and optimize the health of the couple and search for any medical, environmental or genetic factors that could influence the health of the pregnancy."

Copland said that having the session in a clinic allows the doctors to begin the relationship building process with the patients early.

""We collaborate with a couple's established primary care providers to accomplish any recommended screening in the most efficient and comprehensive fashion," Copland said. "A well-woman examination will help to determine if it is time to update medical, cervical or breast cancer screening, plan an influenza vaccine and confirm that childhood immunity to rubella and chicken pox remains."

A well-male examination, Copland said, will help to identify any medical conditions that may contribute to fertility.

Preconception counseling sessions usually include:

  • A review of personal and family medical history
  • Possibly some lab work
  • A physical exam
  • A in depth discussion of the biology of reproduction to assist in natural family planning.
  • Addressing any questions or concerns

Among the questions important for this first session is whether anyone in your family had diabetes, if you ever had any postpartum complications, if you suffer from -- or have you suffered -- any serious medical issues, if are you currently in a monogamous relationship, and whether you have any sexually-transmitted diseases that could influence fertility.

One of the most important things to remember going into a session -- or simply going into the season of planning for a family -- is honesty.

The more candid you can be about your history, habits, fears and feelings, the better we can listen, learn and assist you as you begin your journey toward parenthood.

This article was written for our sponsor, Atlantic Reproductive Medicine Specialists.