Preconception and Conception

Before You Conceive and Conception

Educate yourself before you get pregnant. Unhealthy habits such as caffeine, smoking and alcohol before conception have been proven to have a negative impact on your baby’s development and are known to contribute to low birth weight and miscarriages.1-3

Be proactive.  Visit your doctor and ask if you should start taking prenatal vitamins. Research has shown that folic acid protects your baby from serious birth defects.4   If you start taking vitamins while you are trying to get pregnant, you can help to make sure your body has a good supply of folic acid right from the start. 


Getting pregnant is not always easy and it may take longer for some to conceive than for others, as there are many complex biological factors that play a role in conception:

  • Ovulation/Fertile Window — During your menstrual cycle, which is normally 28 to 32 days, one or more eggs may be released from one of your ovaries. If you count the first day of your period as day one, ovulation usually occurs between the 11th and 21st day of your cycle. Once an egg is released, it can be fertilized within 12 to 24 hours.5  The egg stays alive no longer than 24 hours.
  • Fertilization — Your “fertile window,” or the time you are most likely to become pregnant, lasts about six days. The most fertile day will be the day immediately preceding ovulation.6
  • Implantation — About six to 12 days after ovulation, the fertilized egg moves into and attaches itself to the uterus, which it uses for nourishment.  If you take a pregnancy test at this time, you would get a positive result.  If you think you might be pregnant, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor or healthcare provider. 

  1. Bech BH, Nohr EA, Vaeth M, Henriksen TB, Olsen J. Coffee and fetal death:  a cohort study with prospective data. Am J epidemiol. 2005 Nov 15;162 (10):983-90. Epub 2005 Oct 5.
  2. Tolstrup JS,Kjær SK, Munk C, Madsen LB, Ottesen B, Bergholt T, Gronbaek M. Does caffeine and alcohol intake before pregnancy predict the occurrence of spontaneous abortion?  Hum Reprod. 2003 Dec;18(12):2704-10
  3. Vielwerth SE, Jensen RB, Larsen T, Greisen G. The impact of maternal smoking on fetal and infant growth.  Early Hum Dev. 2007 Aug;83(8)::491-5. Epub 2006 Oct 31.
  4. March of Dimes
  5. American Pregnancy Association
  6. Dunson DB, Baird DD, Wilcox AJ. Weinberg CR. Day-specific probabilities of clinical pregnancy based on two studies with imperfect measures of ovulation. Hum Reprod. 1999 Jul;24(7);1835-9