Planning for Baby

Make sure you're reasonably settled, financially stable, getting along well (a kid won't help a faltering relationship), and 100 percent (not 99 percent) certain you both want this change in your lives.

Get Ready Physically
If you haven't had an annual exam in years, schedule one. Then book a pelvic exam and update your immunizations. Also ask your doctor about vitamins and supplements (folic acid) you should be taking.

Uncover Your Genes
Depending on your background, your doc may refer you to a genetic counselor who will run a battery of tests to see if you carry genetic disorders like Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, or sickle cell anemia.

Tune up Your Teeth
All of the extra blood flow and estrogen in the body can lead to more plaque production and bleeding gums, so get a cleaning before you get pregnant and make sure your smile is in its optimal condition.

See a Financial Planner
Or give yourself a financial checkup. According to a 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it costs about $250,000 to raise a child to age 18.

Learn Your Cycle
Start tracking your cycles now so you know when (or about when) you ovulate. Most cycles are 28 days (making day 14 the best time to conceive), but this varies from woman to woman.

Make a Baby Budget
Save yourself a lot of stress by setting up your budget now for when the baby is born. Diapers aren't cheap!

Look into Disability and Life Insurance
Disability must be purchased before you become pregnant if you want it to cover your birth and postpartum time. Because most policies require several months before you're eligible, buy it in advance.

Find out About Family Leave
Have you been at your current job long enough to be covered by the Federal Family Leave Act? Every employer has its own policies on top of the law regarding how much maternity leave is paid (or partially subsidized).

Go to Jamaica!
Fly to France! Sail into the sunset! Really enjoy being a married couple -- a family of two. Travel becomes tricky (if not limiting) with a newborn, so get to as many sites now as you can (within your budget, of course).

This shouldn't feel like work., so have fun and don't get freaked out if you don't make a baby on the first shot. If you're in your mid-30s and don't conceive after six months, check in with your ob-gyn (three months if it makes you feel better). There are many variables that decide your fertility. In fact, half of all issues couples have lie with the men.

By Mary Jane Minkin, MD.  Mary Jane Minkin is an ob-gyn in private practice in New Haven, Connecticut, and coauthor of A Woman's Guide to Sexual Health; Audrey Couto McClelland, coauthor of Preconception Plain & Simple; and BretteSember, author of Your Practical Pregnancy Planner: Everything You Need to Know About the Financial and Legal Aspects of Preparing for Your New Baby

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