(BPT) - Many women trying to conceive are confused about their period, the 28-day cycle and when they’re most likely to get pregnant.
When a couple is planning to have a baby, understanding the 28-day cycle can mean the difference between success and disappointment, says Gloria Richard-Davis, MD, Ob/Gyn, fertility specialist and author of Planning Parenthood.
Timing is a critical factor when you're trying to get pregnant. As more and more women are waiting to conceive until later in life, we have seen an uptick in fertility tracking technologies — from apps to wearables that help women pinpoint their most fertile days. However, it's important to supplement an app or fertility monitor with simple ovulation tests to accurately identify your fertile days.
Each month, the body prepares for ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovaries. The cycle begins on the first day of menstruation and serves as a detox to dispose of old uterine lining and make way for the next cycle. Day one, the first day of menstrual bleeding or spotting, represents a new opportunity to conceive. Days eleven-sixteen are the optimal time to kick-start baby-making efforts, as ovulation is nearing.
A simple at-home ovulation predictor kit like First Response Ovulation Test Kit will identify your two most fertile days by pinpointing a surge in the luteinizing hormone (LH) that triggers ovulation. Women can maximize their chances by having sex within 24-36 hours after detecting this luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. If a sperm successfully fertilizes the egg, conception occurs.
The lining of the uterus thickens between day seventeen and twenty-four, and if the egg and sperm have successfully met, the fertilized egg will soon implant or attach to the uterine lining (endometrium). The end of the cycle is near, and PMS symptoms may present themselves if pregnancy has not occurred, as progesterone peaks around day twenty-one or twenty-two.
If you think you might be pregnant, but haven't missed your period yet, try the First Response Triple Check Pregnancy Test Kit. It includes one Early Result Pregnancy Test that can let you know six days before your missed period, a Digital Pregnancy Test for women who like to see a yes/no answer, and a Rapid Result Pregnancy Test to take on the day of your missed period or anytime after.
Other important considerations to keep in mind when trying to conceive include:
* Keeping a healthy, well-balanced diet and practicing stress relief.
* Prenatal vitamins with sufficient folic acid like prescription OB Complete are critical even before trying to conceive to ensure a healthy pregnancy journey for both mom and baby.
* Vaginal dryness is twice as common in women who are trying to conceive due to the stress of ‘sex on demand.’ Traditional lubricants can harm sperm motility, which is why using a fertility-friendly lubricant like Pre-Seed is crucial, as it encourages sperm to swim freely and meet an egg.
Don’t guess at your fertile window when it’s so easy to identify the best time to conceive. Every woman is born with millions of immature eggs, but the quantity and quality of remaining eggs, known as the ovarian reserve, decreases. If you’re not able to get pregnant, your ovarian reserve may be low. Tracking ovulation can be challenging as well, especially if your menstrual cycle is irregular. Remember to note your cycle and its symptoms so you can discuss concerns with your medical provider and schedule a preconception checkup.
Before you give birth, ask these 4 questions about your hospital
(BPT) - As you get closer to your delivery date, many decisions lie ahead, all centered around care, maternity leave and even decorating the baby's room. But one question may rise to the top: Where will you give birth?
If you are like most expectant mothers, you will be giving birth in a hospital. In spite of the rising popularity of home births, most moms choose hospitals to have their babies. The most recent statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that fewer than 2 percent of babies born in the U.S. are born in a home setting.
When you're looking at where to give birth, expectant parents should consider the following while choosing a hospital, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).
The place to begin is with your doctor. Most women go to the hospital where their physician has admitting privileges. So when you choose your doctor, the hospital where your baby will be born is tied into that. Discuss your birth plan in detail with your physician and make sure you both are at an understanding. If you have specific preferences, ask your doctor if they can be accommodated. For example, if this is not your first child, and you want to try a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), have that discussion in detail with your physician. And while doctors are on call after office hours, it's always a possibility that your doctor cannot attend your birth. Know who would take the place of your doctor if those circumstances arise.
If you're proceeding along in a healthy pregnancy, you may be planning a vaginal delivery. But a cesarean section is something to be aware of because one third of U.S. births are delivered by C-section, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report. It turns out that the city you live in can have a big impact on how you give birth. Some cities see rates as high as 50 percent, however, cities like Albuquerque, New Mexico, have rates as low as 22 percent. It's important for patients to be aware of this because C-sections raise complications for both babies and mothers, and experts say these should be used only when medically necessary. In addition, vaginal births cost $4,000 less than surgical births.
The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. The program is meant to identify facilities that offer maternity care safely and affordably. The maternity programs also must offer family centered care, such as promotion of breastfeeding.
If you're interested in a list of hospitals that deliver quality maternity care, visit bcbs.com/healthcare-partners/blue-distinction-for-providers/ and select "maternity care."
Not all hospitals are alike, so take time to review what it has to offer. Some maternity centers offer birthing tubs and fold-out couches. Knowing whether the hospital has a newborn intensive care unit may be a consideration, depending on the circumstances of your delivery and birth. If the hospital does not have a neonatal intensive care unit, ask your physician how these newborns are evaluated and transferred to other facilities. If you are interested in breastfeeding, ask if lactation consultants are available and how and when you can seek assistance.
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