Whether she's baby-hungry or just wants the child to be born within a certain time frame, she can make lifestyle choice that increase the likelihood of pregnancy. While some involve pregnancy-specific advice like ovulation tests or visiting a fertility clinic, others follow the good-old fashioned advice of self-care and staying healthy.
Sound too good to be true? Au contraire, my friend. The best advice in life is always the most straightforward, pregnancy advice included. Think about it: if you were going to compete in a triathlon, how would you make sure your body is in top shape to complete the race? Most likely, you wouldn't invest in special diet pills or try faulty internet cures that promise to "increase your metabolism" or whatnot. You would probably exercise regularly, eat right, and research what other triathlon finishers did that helped them.
Preparing your body for pregnancy follows the same pattern. You can look up old wives' tales and try them to your heart's content if it gives you peace of mind. That's about all it's going to give you, though. Your body is most likely to get pregnant if you take steps to care for it, and so the best advice helps you do so in a manageable way.
If you and your partner are ready to bring a baby into your family, check out these 15 tips to increase fertility and make sure that once you are pregnant, your baby is as healthy as they can be. You may already follow some of this advice. If so, you are already one step ahead of the game! Add the rest of these lifestyle changes into your daily routine to help your body along the baby-making path.
15 Get A Preconception Checkup
Attending a preconception checkup should be step one for any couple ready to try for a baby. Once you've had "the talk" with your partner and you're both excited to bring a new addition into the family, set one up with your clinician or a local ob-gyn. Make sure to bring in a list of questions beforehand to ask your doctor and bring in any relevant medical history. This way, the doctor can best tailor the preconception check-up around your needs and give you relevant information.
Preconception checkups are doubly important if your family has a history of medical concerns such as diabetes or chronic illness. Let your doctor know if you or any immediate family have had pregnancy complications in the past so they can help you through a safe pregnancy.
If your family has a history of birth defects, ask your doctor for their opinion on prenatal vitamins. Some have supplements such as folic acid which protect against common defects if taken during the early stages of pregnancy.
14 Avoid Drinking—Drink Water Instead
Yes, that's right: if you're trying to conceive and have no luck, you could very well blame it on the alcohol. Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day can decrease fertility by as much as 60%. Those who drink high amounts of alcohol may have a lower likelihood of becoming pregnant, though if you're having more than two drinks a day, you may want to consider drinking less for health reasons regardless.
Once you start planning for pregnancy, your best bet is to limit alcohol intake for the sake of the baby as well. Sometimes you won't know you're pregnant until a month or more after you conceive, and early fetal exposure to alcohol can result in serious disorders.
Is this doable? Hopefully, yes. Although being unable to have a drink at dinner every now and again may put you in a low mood, just remember that once you're pregnant, you'll have to abstain anyways. Think of now as a test run.
13 How's His Count?
No, your partner doesn't need to start wearing boxers instead of briefs or stop sleeping next to his cellphone. But he can practice certain behaviors to make sure his sperm count is high. Temperature can, in some instances, damage sperm levels if the testicles are exposed to strong heat. If your spouse likes relaxing in hot tubs or practicing Bikram yoga, ask if he can refrain until your pregnancy test is positive.
Additionally, encourage your man to keep healthy lifestyle habits. Men with extremely unhealthy BMIs (both high and low) are less likely to conceive with their partner when trying for a child. Aim for at least three thirty-minute periods of strenuous exercise a week, coupled with good nutrition habits.
12 Keep Track Of Menstruation
Tracking your menstrual cycle can help you chart an approximate idea of when you're ovulating and what days are best to conceive on. Knowing whether you have a regular period is so important when it comes to trying for a baby. If your period is regular, you will have one about every twenty-eight days.
Not every woman has a regular period, though, so don't panic if your cycle lengths vary each time you track it. Writing it down just gives you a good idea of when you might have the highest chance of conception.
Why is this so beneficial to know? If you can estimate your ovulation time, you can figure out your highest shot at getting pregnant. Once your body releases an egg, it is fertile for up to 24 hours afterwards. Sperm can survive in your body for about six or seven days after intercourse, so as long as you plan for a week-ish "guesstimate" of your ovulation time, you should be good to go.
11 Get Active
The recommendation is five to six days of heart-pumping exercise before and during pregnancy, to give you an optimum chance of pregnancy and your body in good health up through and after delivery. While old wives' tales say that exercise can hinder your chance of pregnancy, you don't have to ditch your Zumba class if you're ready for a baby.
You may, however, have to say goodbye to Crossfit or other high-impact workouts if you're ready to conceive. People who participate in extremely intense workouts have a lower chance of conceiving, perhaps because their periods are more likely to become irregular. Keep track of your cycle and, if you notice your period skipping or a lighter flow, try a less strenuous workout.
10 Look Into Ovulation Predictor Kits
Also known as the "I Can't Believe It's Not a Pregnancy Test," ovulation predictor kits can be bought over-the-counter at most grocery stores. Unlike ovulation tracking methods that involve temperature (which is unreliable), ovulation kits track levels of luteinizing hormones, which spike up in the days leading to and during ovulation. Predictor kits offer you an accurate idea of where you are on the cycle and if you are currently ovulating.
Know, however, that if it is positive, you have a fleeting window of opportunity. Ovulation is short. Once you see a positive result, you'll want to have sex with your partner within the next 23-36 hours if possible. Keep that in mind when buying one, as you'll have little use for a positive result if your partner's out-of-town for the weekend.
9 Maintain A Healthy BMI
Sometimes difficulty conceiving can trace back to an unhealthy BMI. Weight is an important aspect of your overall health, and if you're under or overweight, you may have a hard time conceiving. Those on the extreme ends of the BMI often notice light spotting during their time of the month or their period may stop altogether. Your reproduction system functions best when in a healthy weight range, so take steps to maintain a balanced BMI.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet is important whether you're trying to conceive or not. You will feel your best when your body is functioning at its highest level. Encourage healthy lifestyle habits by eating at home most days of the week and establishing a set exercise routine, like biking to work or buying an aerobics membership at the rec center. Dehydration is all-too-common and can decrease your chances of conceiving, so make sure to drink plenty of H2O.
8 Know Age-Related Risks And Declines
If you and your partner decide to have kids when you're older (as long as you haven't gone through menopause), that's totally okay. Read up on age-related fertility risks to make sure you have a safe and informed pregnancy. Although men produce sperm for the entirety of their life, women are born with a set amount of eggs. As women age, their egg quality decreases, making older women less likely to conceive.
Without IFV, women 40 and older are fifty percent less likely to get pregnant. Their chance of conceiving each month is about five percent if they are actively trying. Additionally, older women are more than five times more likely to have a miscarriage or stillbirth after conceiving.
Know the risks before you and your partner visit an IFV clinic or try on your own. If you feel that pregnancy may not be safe for you or the baby's health, you may want to look into foster care or adoption.
7 Say No To Smoking
Nobody's going to claim that smoking cigarettes is a healthy habit in general. Most of us know that chain smoking damages the lungs, heart, and vascular system. Few know, however, that smoking also can damage the ovaries. Women who smoke are more likely to loose eggs at a faster rate, meaning that they hit menopause on average one to four years earlier than other women.
Male smokers also have observed lower sperm counts and increased numbers of abnormal sperm. Because of the chemicals such as nicotine or cyanide in cigarettes, smoking diminishes the sperm's potency when fertilizing an egg.
Overall, infertility rates between smoking couples are about twice the rate of infertility in non-smokers. Even couples who smoke and try IFV may not be able to overcome the adverse effects, as they still exhibit a 30% lower pregnancy rate than non-smoking IFV patients. In this case, being a quitter is in your best interests.
6 Record Ovulation Dates
Similar to tracking your period, recording your ovulation dates can give you a more precise idea of when your window of action is for conceiving. If you know you are ovulating, write down the date in a planner or calendar so you can keep track of approximate future ovulation dates and plan accordingly.
For whatever reason, you may not be able to buy an ovulation kit every months. In that case, you may look for some common signs of ovulation. You may notice cervical fluid changing color, smell, or texture; some women report cervical fluid that has the consistency of "egg whites" during their ovulation. Your basal body temperature may also increase, and you may experience a heightened sex drive.
Ovulation works differently in every woman's body, so keep in mind that you may be ovulating without noticing overt signs. Your best method if unsure is an ovulation kit or months of diligent tracking.
5 Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Unfortunately, caffeine consumption can have adverse fertility effects as well. Drinking more than 250 mg of caffeine can significantly diminish chances of conceiving. That's up to two cups of coffee or 24 ounces of soda. Any more than that, and you might have a hard time getting pregnant.
Keep in mind that you'll need to watch more than coffee when abstaining from caffeine: tea, some soft drinks, and chocolate all have varying amounts of caffeine, too. Pick and choose each day how much of each you want so you make sure you don't go overboard and hurt your chances of conceiving.
Before you give up your daily soda just yet, though, caffeine is okay in moderation. Just remember that key word: "moderation." Go ahead and have a chocolate cookie with your tea in the morning. Keep in mind, however, that it all adds up.
4 Remember "The Fertile Window"
Women are most likely to conceive in about six days out of their cycle. Pregnancy is possible during any day of the month, but if you're trying to have a baby, you may want to keep in mind of the week fertility clinics affectionately refer to as "the fertility window."
The fertility window runs from around five or six days before ovulation to the day you are ovulating. This saves you the hassle of having to predict the exact day your ovulation begins. Tune into your body and look for signs of ovulation as mentioned earlier in the article. If you notice more than one, you may be entering the fertility window.
Once you're in this five to six day period, most researchers advice making love at least every other day during the fertility window. You can have sex every day if you feel comfortable with that, but there is little difference in terms of effectiveness between every day and every other day.
3 Take Prenatal Vitamins
When you are ready to conceive, start taking a prenatal vitamin every day to acclimate your body to the influx of nutrients and make them more effective once you are pregnant. General multivitamins can also increase your overall health which increases the likelihood of conceiving.
Most prenatal vitamins contain folic acid which, in at least 400 microgram (mcg) doses per day, can significantly decrease the chances of birth defects. Folic acid is only effective during the first few weeks after conceiving, however, when most women don't know whether they're pregnant or not.
Your best bet is to take them as soon as you start trying for a baby so you know they're protected against common brain and spinal defects. Some research also claims that folic acid vitamins can help prepare your body for pregnancy up to a month before conceiving, so your baby's best interest is for you to take them ASAP.
2 Lay Down After Intercourse
You know the old wives' tale about propping your feet up after sex to help guide sperm along the way? That much isn't true, but whoever made that up is on the right track. As it turns out, you don't need to lie down in your feet in the air to increase the chances of pregnancy, but staying in bed after intercourse can aid fertility.
As long as you're laying down, your cervix will remain in optimal position to increase odds of fertility. Ob-gyns recommend that you refrain from using the bathroom or standing up for 10-15 minutes. After that, the sperm will have entered the vagina.
1 Seek Help, if Needed
If you have tried most everything and still can't seem to get pregnant, you may want to visit a fertility clinic after a couple of months. Together with your partner, they can assess your medical history, lifestyle routines, and possible reasons for infertility. Your doctor may also recommend after an infertility evaluation that you begin IFV or other treatment methods.
When preparing for your first visit at the fertility clinic, write down any details you can remember about how long you've been attempting to get pregnant and what your methods are. Bring any medical history such as conditions affecting you, your partner, or close family members. Also take a list of any medications you and your partner take and the doses, as some medicines can decrease fertility.
Some couples feel like if they can't conceive, they're doing something wrong or they're not trying hard enough. In nearly every case, this is not true. Seek help to understand what the causes behind your difficulties are and what treatments may help you.