The basic goals of pre-pregnancy planning are to maximize your pregnancy chances and minimize potential health hazards to the fetus once you’ve become pregnant. Excessive alcohol use (more than 1-2 drinks per day) and cigarette smoking can affect both sperm and eggs–minimizing the use of these for both of you are important. If either of you is on any prescription medications, you may want to check with your physician to see whether they affect fertility or could cause birth defects. Some health conditions (epilepsy, diabetes, high blood pressure) may require additional interventions before you become pregnant–again, check with your healthcare provider. Illicit substance use (ecstasy, methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana) should be stopped.
You will want to start on prenatal vitamins (with at least 0.4 mg of folic acid) at least 6-8 weeks in advance of pregnancy; this helps to reduce the risk of spina bifida/neural tube defects. This is also a good time to try to avoid any x-rays if possible. There is an organism called toxoplasmosis carried in cat feces. It can cause birth defects, so you’ll want your partner to change the litter box if you have one.
Hot tub/sauna use can affect sperm count, so men should minimize their exposure. Artificial lubricants should not be used during intercourse as they can reduce fertility rates. The two days prior to ovulation and 1-2 days after are your most fertile days during the menstrual cycle; you’ll want to increase intercourse frequency during that time.
We can give you more specific information about preparing for pregnancy and can also help with increasing your pregnancy chances with each menstrual cycle.