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*Start taking folic acid now. You reduce your chances of giving birth to a baby with a neural tube defect (for example, anencephaly or spina bifida) by 50% to 70% if you start taking at least 0.4 mg of folic acid each day two to three months before you start trying to conceive.
*Try to keep sex fun when you're trying to conceive. Use rooms other than the bedroom or schedule your babymaking rendezvous for an odd time of day.
*Don't hop up and run to the bathroom right after you make love. Lying down for at least five minutes after intercourse increases the odds that the sperm will be able to keep their date with the awaiting egg and that you'll win at baby roulette.
*Make love often during your fertile period (the five days leading up to ovulation). If you've got the stamina to make love at least every 48 hours, you will ensure that there's a fresh shipment of sperm waiting in the fallopian tube at any given time.
*Keep in mind that babymaking is a numbers game. Even if you do everything "right," you still have only a 25% to 30% chance of conceiving in any given cycle.
*If you haven't already stopped smoking, do it now. Studies have shown that smoking just 10 cigarettes a day reduces a woman's chances of conceiving by 50%.
*Here's a bit of sex-related trivia, just in case you and your partner are looking for a little inspiration. There are over 114 million sex acts performed around the world, according to a recent article on the Thrive@passion web site.
*Are you a coffee drinker? Time to give it up or switch to decaf! Caffeine is thought to restrict the growth of a developing baby by constricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the uterus. What's more, a few studies have indicated that excessive consumption of caffeine (that is, more than three cups of drip coffee per day) may contribute to fertility problems. The jury is still out on this last point, however.
*Are you or your partner regularly exposed to hazardous substances in the workplace? You may need to consider a job change or job modification before you start your family. Certain substances can affect both the quality of sperm and the development of the embryo.
*Have you had your preconception checkup yet? Set up an appointment with your doctor to review your medical history and to talk about your plans to start trying to conceive.
*Are you currently taking any prescription or over-the-counter drugs? Be sure to ask your doctor if it's safe for you to continue taking them once you start trying to conceive.
*Are you diabetic? It's important to get your blood sugar levels under control before you conceive. Studies have shown that women with poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes are four to six times more likely to give birth to babies with birth defects than non-diabetic women.