Most couples don't just wake up one day and think, "Let's start a family now!" As much as some might wish their partners were that impulsive and enthusiastic, it's better to put some thought into this baby thing. Here's your to-do list.
Talk: You might know a dozen women who are pregnant, but that doesn't mean it's the right timing for you guys. 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. Let your doctors know your pregnancy plans are on the horizon. Talk about any meds you take for chronic conditions (like diabetes or hypothyroid disease), update your immunizations, and find out what medications are safe to use while pregnant. Then ask what types of vitamins and supplements (folic acid) you should be taking, and what dietary changes you should make before you're eating for two. The sooner you start these positive habits, the easier your pregnancy will be.
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 untreatable and devastating genetic disorders like Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia.
Tune up your teeth: Even those who floss and brush daily and see the dentist every six months might have teeth issues during pregnancy. All of the extra blood flow and estrogen in the body can lead to more plaque production and bleeding gums. 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. And that doesn't include the money your brat will likely steal from your wallet all throughout high school.
Learn your cycle: Women typically ovulate midcycle. This is your most fertile time; it's when you have the best chance of conceiving. But the timing of it differs from woman to woman - and possibly from month to month. The first day of your cycle (day 1) is the first day of your period. If you have a 28-day cycle, you would most likely ovulate on day 14. Track your body for a few months to get the best idea of the ideal time to try.
Make a baby budget: Think of the new clothes, doctor visits, vitamins and childbirth classes. If you plan for these costs in advance, you'll save yourself a lot of stress and feel less strapped after the baby is actually born. Examine the big picture: Save and cut back as needed instead of just buying things as you go along. Remember, the cash you spend on all of those Saturday night dinners (splurges) could probably end up paying for diapers and formula.
Relax: This shouldn't feel like work. 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.