pregnancy

The Overwhelmed Woman's Guide to planning a pregnancy.

Elevit
Thanks to our brand partner, Elevit

Before trying for a baby I’d been professionally overwhelmed, but never personally overwhelmed.

I project managed my own wedding, overseas holidays and house renovations. No dramas. So why did switching from contraception mode to conception mode stress me out so much? Well, for starters, I couldn’t control every single detail like I did with my contraception.  

I made sure I took my pill at the same time every day.

I made sure I used a backup method if I’d been on antibiotics or been ill.

I had a 100 per cent success rate for 15 years.

I could see what I was doing and control the whole process, and that made me calm. But when it came to getting pregnant, my body felt like a black box.

Other than having sex at roughly the halfway point of my cycle, it felt like I was flying blind. So how did I get from there to two kids? 

For one thing, I didn’t “just relax”. Side note: Never in the history of the whole world has an overwhelmed woman experienced a favourable reduction in “whelm” just because she was told to.

At the risk of sounding like a motivational speaker: I took control.

I focused on the things I could control. And I micromanaged the heck out of them. It calmed me, gave my nervous energy an outlet and everything felt much more manageable.

So, from one overwhelmed woman to another, here’s a guide to what you can control when you’re planning a pregnancy.

Start taking a pre-conception multivitamin and mineral supplement 

It’s important to consider taking a pregnancy multivitamin and mineral supplement, from at least 1 month before you try to fall pregnant. 

This is because the first 3-6 weeks after conception are critical for your baby’s development as its vital organs begin to develop, and it takes a while for the right nutrients to build up in your system.

Elevit has been specially formulated to help meet the increased nutritional needs of women who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant. With just one small and convenient tablet of their Elevit Pre-conception & Pregnancy Multivitamin (to be taken once daily), it’s an easy way to take control and supplement your nutrition – knowing you're supporting your baby’s healthy development even before conception. 

Elevit includes hero ingredients like:

  • Folic Acid – aids growth and development and helps to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida.

  • Iron – supports immune function, energy levels and helps transport oxygen in the blood. Low iron levels can have an impact on baby’s development.

  • Iodine – required for thyroid hormones and is essential for healthy growth, particularly cognitive development.

  • Magnesium – important for healthy structure of bones and teeth

  • Selenium – an essential mineral with antioxidant properties, which plays a vital role supporting immune system function & brain development

  • Vitamin D – helps the body absorb the calcium it needs to support muscle strength and bone health. It also promotes immune function and cell growth and development.

  • B Group Vitamins – the body needs B group vitamins to help it use the fuel we get from foods, such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat, which are all needed for energy.

No other pre-conception and pregnancy multivitamin contains more folic acid and iron than Elevit, and it’s oh-so-satisfying to tick off your mental to-do list every day.

Book a health check with your GP – and your dentist

Go chat to your doctor about your baby-making plans. I remember feeling awkward going to the doctor when there was nothing "wrong" with me, but my GP was amazing. 

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Depending on your personal and family history you might need genetic tests, general blood tests or other testing. Definitely do this before getting pregnant as the last thing you want to be doing while pregnant is finding out you have a medical condition that needs treating. Nobody needs that extra mental load or worry.

Plus, if you're taking medications, a medical practitioner will advise what you can continue taking and where you might need a change. Elevit has a great checklist for women planning pregnancy to prepare you for your chat with your GP. You can find it here.

This is also the best time to go see your dentist for a check-up and have any necessary treatments before you try to conceive - or even a cheeky teeth whitening so you look your best in all those post-partum pics. 

Elevit also sponsor a free, live chat service, Ask a Doctor, which is perfect if you have any questions about preparing for pregnancy, and clarifying any thoughts on what you can expect. 

The GP service is new, and is independently operated by Australian qualified GPs, via independent provider Meeting Doctors.

While the service isn't intended to replace face-to-face medical consultations, it can help provide supporting access to reliable, expert advice and guidance.

Stop your contraception

Once you’ve made it through the other steps and you've had a few weeks on your supplements, you’re ready to come off contraception. I threw my pill pack in the bin on my wedding night because I’m dramatic like that, then fished it out as I hadn’t quite thought through the logistics of getting my period mid-honeymoon. 

Just a heads up, depending on your method of contraception, and on your body, it might take a while for your cycle to go back to what's "normal" for you. If you’ve been on The Pill – chances are your menstrual cycle will return to regular programming within 4-8 weeks of stopping. 

If you have an IUD, booking an appointment to have it removed would be the next step. 

Calculating your fertile window

If, like me, you spent the majority of your adult years trying not to get pregnant, it does come as a surprise (once you start trying) there’s only a tiny window each month where you can get pregnant. Go figure.

Having sex in the lead up to, and during, the time that you ovulate is crucial to getting pregnant. If the thought of sex every single night doesn’t exhaust you now, it will in a month (!), so do yourself a favour and find out your “fertile window” and track when you ovulate

You can also use Ovulation Test Kits, from your pharmacy, which can help pinpoint the exact days leading up to your ovulation but they can get expensive (and somewhat addictive), so it's worth trying the calendar method first.

Know when to ask for help

No one knows your body better than you. If you’ve never had normal cycles, had severe pain, if you’ve been off the pill/IUD for months and don’t have a normal cycle or if you’ve been trying for more than 1 year (6 months if you are over 35): go see your GP. 

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Despite being relatively 'young', in my case, I knew my 65 day cycles weren’t right. I took this info to my GP and she referred me to our incredible IVF clinic. With their help, we now have two happy children.

For anyone with a niggle – that nagging feeling that something isn’t right – please go talk to your GP and ask for a referral. There are so many options available. Here’s a quick summary of a few just to get started:

  • Ovulation tracking: uses blood tests and an ultrasound to identify which days you’re most fertile – and a lovely doctor or nurse will tell you to go have sex on a certain day. The first three rounds are typically bulk billed.

  • Ovulation induction: involves taking medication to induce ovulation, increasing the chance of conception through timed intercourse or Intrauterine insemination (IUI).

  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI): involves inserting the male partner’s (or donor’s) semen into the uterus close to the time of ovulation. No sex required.

  • In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF): is a procedure by which an egg and sperm are collected and joined together outside the body. The fertilised egg (embryo) is allowed to grow in a protected environment before being transferred into the uterus. Any remaining embryos can be stored for use later.

Check your policies

You don’t have to be in a financially secure position to have a baby, but it will make life much easier. 

Whether you’ve just started a job or have been there for years, check out your parental leave entitlements – and have your partner check theirs too, as most organisations give some amount of parental leave to both parents. Things to look at: how much paid leave are you entitled to, how much unpaid leave, if you can claim government leave, if there's a set time period in which you have to use that (most companies say 12 months from the baby’s due date), and so on. 

If you’re looking for a new job don’t worry, some organizations offer parental leave with no minimum service period now.

Also, if you want to use private health – you don’t have to, it’s a personal choice - during pregnancy and birth, check your policy entitlements. You may need cover for at least 12 months before you become pregnant.

The bottom line

The first 1000 days, from conception to a child’s second birthday, are a critical window to lay the foundations for lifelong development and health. 

It’s a time where the brain, body and immune system of the baby develop significantly. So naturally, there is a lot to feel overwhelmed about when you’re trying to learn and implement ALL the things for a smooth road ahead. But remember, there is so much you can influence in the lead-up to conception to ensure your baby has the best possible start to life. 

Take your supplement, talk to your GP, from one overwhelmed woman to another: you’ve got this.

Elevit Pre-conception & Pregnancy is a multivitamin and mineral supplement that has been specially formulated to help meet the increased nutritional needs of those who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant.

Find Elevit products online or in-store at your local pharmacy.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use. If you have a baby with a neural tube defect /spina bifida, seek specific medical advice.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.

Elevit
If you’re planning to start a family, start taking Elevit Pre-conception & Pregnancy multivitamin 1 month prior to planned conception. No other pregnancy multivitamin contains more folic acid and iron than Elevit for your baby's healthy development. Elevit is Australia's no.1 and most trusted pregnancy vitamin and celebrates supporting 2 million pregnancies over the last 20 years. Click here to learn more. Always read the label and follow the directions for use.