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Starting a Family? Create Your Own Reproductive Plan

Starting a Family? Create Your Own Reproductive Plan

What is a reproductive plan and why is it important? A reproductive life plan is a set of personal goals about having (or not having) children and steps for how to achieve those goals. It is important to create such a plan, so that you and your partner can gain a clear understanding of your personal values, and the resources you will bring to creating a family. In fact, both men and women should be encouraged to articulate what they want. This will improve the quality of your communication and lay a good foundation for your future.

Here are some examples of reproductive plans that include both the desired outcome and the steps needed to reach that outcome:

  • “I’m not ready to have children now and I want to make sure that I do not get pregnant. Either I won’t have heterosexual sex, or I’ll correctly use effective contraception.”
  • “I want to have children when my relationship feels secure and I’ve saved enough money. I won’t become pregnant until then. After that, I’ll visit my doctor to discuss preconception health. I’ll try to get pregnant when I’m in good health.”
  • “I’d like to be a father after I finish school and have a job to support a family. While I work toward those goals, I’ll talk to my wife about her goals for starting a family. I’ll make sure we correctly use an effective method of contraception every time we have sex until we’re ready to have a baby.”
  • “I’d like to have two children and space my pregnancies by at least two years. Once I have a baby, I’ll get advice from a health professional on birth control. I don’t want to have a second baby before I’m ready.”
  • “I will let pregnancy happen whenever it happens. Because I don’t know when that will be, I’ll make sure I’m in optimal health for pregnancy at all times.”

As you can see, there are many different kinds of reproductive plans. What’s important is that you think about when and under what conditions you want to start a family. Make sure your actions support these goals. Your AOA physician can help you understand the clinical and lifestyle options that are best for you.

Thinking Ahead for a Healthy Pregnancy

If you and your spouse are thinking of having a child, planning ahead, in partnership with your AOA physician, can be key. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a “preconception” visit to your doctor. Your AOA doctor can help assess your personal health history and your family health history to identify any risk factors and create a plan that prepares you for the best possible pregnancy and delivery. This will include an exercise/rest plan, dietary recommendations, and a plan for any special care you may need. Thinking ahead and using your AOA healthcare providers as valuable partners in planning will help ensure that you are as healthy as possible before you conceive.

Boost Your Preconception Health

  1. Increase your intake of folic acid. All people need folic acid, but it is especially important for women who are planning to get pregnant. Take 400 to 800 micrograms (400 to 800 mcg or 0.4 to 0.8 mg) of folic acid every day to prevent major birth defects, including:
    • spina bifida, which occurs when an unborn baby’s spinal column does not close to protect the spinal cord; as a result, the nerves that control leg movements and other functions do not work. Children with spina bifida often have lifelong disabilities and may also need many surgeries.
    • anencephaly (an-en-SEF-uh-lee), which is when most or all of the brain does not develop. Babies with this problem die before or shortly after birth.
  2. Talk to your AOA doctor about your folic acid needs.
  3. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
  4. Make sure any medical conditions you may have are under control. Some conditions that can affect pregnancy, or be affected by pregnancy, include asthma, diabetes, oral health, obesity and epilepsy.
  5. Make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccinations.
  6. Avoid contact with toxic substances at work or in your home. Stay away from chemicals and cat or rodent feces.

Learn more about creating a reproductive plan and addressing your preconception health: