I am glad to be a woman in today's society as opposed to 50 or 60 years ago when a woman's primary choices were to become married by the age of 21 or be viewed as a spinster. Growing up being aware of having more choices empowered me to know that I too can have a career and be as productive and thriving as a man could. In my twenties, if anyone asked me when I was planning to get married and have children, after shooting them my fiercest look I would launch into this tirade about how society has evolved and women were not just put on this planet to reproduce and blah blah blah. My soap box was permanently attached to my right hand just waiting for the opportunity to correct anyone who challenged this thought process. That all changed once I reached age 35 and my biological clock started to tick and realized that I, in fact, did want a baby and I wanted one right now. What I didn't realize then but have come to find out the hard way is that, while society has changed, a woman's reproductive function has not. Women are having fewer babies not just because they are choosing careers over motherhood but because they are having more difficulty. According to the Institute of Family Studies, "Among women, the number one issue preventing pregnancy is ovulation related. These problems of ovulation are overwhelmingly due to the delayed age at which women are attempting to become pregnant." Most women who wait until after the age of 35 to get pregnant will need some sort of technological assistance. If there is any remote chance that you will want children even if you are healthy. Even if your pap smears always come back normal, please keep reading to learn three things you want to start doing today to prepare for the road to motherhood in your 30s and 40s while balancing your career aspirations.
1. Find and go see a fertility specialist
You may be thinking why would I go see a fertility specialist now if I'm not planning to have a baby in the next two or three years? First, your mind can become your own worst enemy while on a fertility journey. You can/will make better decisions when you are not in a perpetual state of panic. After finally being ready to tackle motherhood to learn that it may or may not happen for you is a jagged little pill to swallow. Motherhood is most certainly a journey and for some of us, it takes a village of therapists, doctors, friends, and family to get you there. I wish I had taken the time to familiarize myself with a specialist in my area before I started my fertility journey. I relocated to the Atlanta area from New York City just before I started my fertility journey only to find out that there were not a ton of options when choosing a fertility specialist. The next reason is simply to receive a clearer snapshot of your reproductive health now and a better understanding of how your health is progressing as you are aging. While all women's reproductive function starts declining in their 30s the pace at which your reproductive health declines varies from woman to woman. This is why some women experience menopause in their 40s while the average age for menopause is 51. Building a medical relationship with a fertility specialist can be crucial to your TTC timeline. As time is of the essence.
2. Start saving for baby
Fertility specialists and medicines are expensive! While you may or may not need them it's good to start saving now for whatever may arise. Most companies offer fertility coverage with their employee insurance plans however depending on the insurance company you may need to meet certain provisions for them to cover your visits to your specialist, i.e. your age and the amount of time you have been TTC. Not to mention not all fertility specialists accept insurance, however, most if not all offer some kind of payment plan setup. Payments can still be expensive for the average person which is where your baby savings will come in handy. Then baby dust, baby dust if it turns out that you don't need to see a specialist you can buy yourself a really nice push gift! As the famous quote from George Ellis states " it is better to have and not need than to need and not have."
3. Implement a Fitness and Healthy Diet plan
Creating a baby is truly a miracle and this statement will become more and more apparent when you begin to understand how many crucial elements must fall into place at exactly the right time for your body to procreate. The two main hormones that affect your ability to procreate are Estrogen and Progesterone. Here is an article if you would like to learn more about these two hormones and how and when they appear during your menstrual cycle. These two hormones can be affected by what you eat and drink. Which diet was best for me? How long was it going to take to work? As you can imagine these kinds of questions can really stress a girl out while trying to conceive. Taking the time to start eating right today before you actually start TTC will give you the much-needed head start on your journey to becoming a mother. As with anything it takes time to start seeing results so set yourself up for success by starting now. There are several fertility diets on the market all claiming to help boost estrogen. Please seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any new diet. According to The Carolina's Fertility Institute website, "Not only can exercise help you lose excess weight that may inhibit fertility, but regular fitness activity can also help balance hormones, improve insulin, and reduce stress, all of which can help boost fertility." Age is the main factor in determining your options for conceiving. You cannot do anything about your age however, you can do things to improve your odds by implementing an exercise routine into your daily life. Especially if conceiving naturally is not an option. Fertility specialists believe that exercise alone can improve your chances of having a successful IUI or IVF.
Unfortunately for most women, it is not until you find yourself ready to have a baby that you realize, you don't know your lady parts as well as you should have. ( I blame our high school health teachers)and you have fewer options than you would like in terms of how to get pregnant. The amount of information that will be thrown at you when you are TTC can sometimes be overwhelming especially while trying to balance it with your everyday life. Putting yourself on a savings plan and going on a fitness journey can take years to perfect. I do not know a single person who enjoys making changes in their life especially when they are hard. Unfortunately, most life changes are hard because it requires doing research, breaking new habits, and building new ones. There will be so many other challenges that you will face when TTC. Why not remove things from the list if you can? Giving yourself the time to learn more about your body's reproductive health, and saving money is something you can do for yourself as a future new mom. Be encouraged to take out that five-year plan and find ways to integrate some or all of these changes. Sending future baby dust your way.