Preconception Planning Checklist: What to Do, Remember & Change

Preconception Planning ChecklistYou might not consider yourself baby hungry just yet, but if you’re starting to feel like a baby is in your future there’s plenty you can do to ensure you’re ready when the internal instinct kicks in. This preconception planning checklist will help you know what to do, remember and change before you conceive.

What to Do

Make an appointment to visit your doctor, and start making a list of questions you’d like to ask. Print or email yourself a copy so it’s easy to access and update. Discuss conception topics and questions with your spouse as they arise, and continue to add to the list until the day of the appointment.

Questions could include:

  • Which vitamins should I take?
  • Are there any foods I should avoid?
  • How does my and my partner’s medical history effect conception?
  • Is my age an issue?
  • What is an ideal weight for me?
  • Will the birth control methods I was using affect how long it takes me to conceive?
  • When am I most likely to conceive?
  • Is there anything my partner or I should be aware of or stay away from?


Most fertile couples conceive within the first year of trying, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means if you’re on month four and haven’t conceived, you don’t need to feel anxious just yet. Instead, calculate ovulation by tracking your fertile window, or, in other words, your most likely time to conceive. This period stretches two to three days before ovulation and 12 to 24 hours after, according to

  • Basal body temperature method: This method involves tracking your basal body temperature, which is the lowest temperature attained by the body during rest. It is usually measured immediately after awakening and before any physical activity. Your basal body temperature rises slightly with ovulation, so after a few months of monitoring it you’ll know when you’re most likely to ovulate, and therefore conceive.
  • Calendar method: This involves tracking your cycle to chart how many days it lasts. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, but normal cycles can vary between 21 and 35 days, according to After you know how many days your cycle is, you can better predict ovulation. In a 28-day cycle, ovulation happens around day 14.
  • Cervical mucus method: Changes in your cervical mucus indicate whether you’ve ovulated or you’re about to. This method includes tracking the amount and type of mucus you experience throughout the month. Dry days or cloudy and sticky mucus appear just before or just after your period. Clear and slippery mucus indicates your most fertile days, according to

Time for a Change

Carrying a baby can often require drastic diet, exercise and lifestyle changes for some soon-to-be expecting mothers. Start preparing for pregnancy at least three months before getting pregnant, according to Begin cutting alcohol, tobacco and drugs from your diet. Start or continue an exercise routine that keeps you at a healthy weight whether it be taking up yoga, light jogging, spinning, or even just long daily walks to keep not only your body in healthy shape for the baby, but to give you a clear mind as well. Being under or overweight can contribute to infertility, according to the Mayo Clinic. Overall, maintain a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude in order to increase your likelihood of conception.

Debbie Keene

Debbie is a physician and health writer who lives in Wisconsin.

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