Here’s the myth: Once you’re pregnant, your sex life tanks, you can’t take any medication for your headaches and you can forget about dancing the night away or any other rigorous exercise.
Here’s the truth: Your sex life actually can be fantastic during pregnancy, because pregnancy hormones make your sensitive parts super sensitive (read: The big “O” can be huge). Ibuprofen is out, but there are many over-the-counter and even prescription drugs that are safe to use during pregnancy. And regular exercise that doesn’t risk injury to your abdomen (e.g., kick-boxing) or require the kind of balance you just won’t have while housing a basketball in your belly (e.g., downhill skiing) not only is permitted, it’s recommended. It helps curb the discomfort caused by the stretching of muscles and ligaments necessary to grow a another human inside your body. Plus, regular exercise keeps your weight in check and will help develop the endurance needed for labor.
All that being said, the quantity and character of your sexual activities, prescription and over-the-counter drug intake and exercise will have to change during pregnancy, and the tougher reality is, you may need to make some adjustments prior to getting pregnant.
The lowdown on getting down and low
You might think that upping your intercourse schedule to a three-times-a-day habit will help your chances of getting pregnant, but there can be too much of a good thing.
“The research shows that the likelihood of getting pregnant is the same if you have sex every night or every other night,” says local obstetrician Dr. Edward T. Wolanski.
Plus, according to Wolanski, giving the guy a chance to refill his sperm tank is important.
“Your best bet is to time intercourse during the fertile days of your cycle—a day or two before ovulation. The sperm has to be there waiting for the egg.”
It’s a no-brainer that you have to stop taking oral contraceptives if you’re trying to conceive, but what you might not know is that doctors recommend stopping three months before trying to conceive and using a back-up form of contraceptive during that time. Though you could get pregnant immediately after stopping the pill, the presence of oral contraceptives in your system might be harmful.
There are also other prescription drugs, such as those for high blood pressure, seizures, allergies and depression, that might affect fertility or present a risk of miscarriage. You should consult your physician about all of your meds and make adjustments in advance of getting pregnant.
What you should start taking in advance of conceiving is a prenatal vitamin or, at the very least, 400 micrograms of folic acid. The folic acid supplement has been proven to reduce the risks of birth defects to the brain and spinal chord of the growing fetus. Because these types of defects occur during the first 28 days after conception (when you likely won’t even know you’re pregnant), it’s crucial to have the nutrient in your system when conception occurs. Other vital nutrients contained in pre-natal vit-amins are (1) calcium, which helps maintain your bone density during pregnancy as well as provides necessary minerals for fetal bone growth and (2) iron, which helps keep mom’s and baby’s blood rich with oxygen.
Postpone the Ironman
Regular exercise is great for your overall health and well-being and therefore, your fertility, but the kind of exces-sive, strenuous exercise that affects your ovulation cycle may decrease your chances of conceiving. It also can affect sperm count in men, so both of you should start tapering off from your co-ed biathlon train-ing regimen if you’re trying to get pregnant any time soon.
Katherine Ludwig is a lawyer turned freelance writer and mother of two who thinks passing the Bar was cake next to breastfeeding and potty training.