Tips on Trying to Conceive
When a friend tells me she’s trying for a baby, I always have to suppress a little giggle. The word “trying” makes it sound like hard work! Shouldn’t having sex with your partner be fun? But, if you’ve been trying to conceive for a year, it can start to feel like hard work. So, this post will focus on giving help and advice on what to do when you’re trying to get pregnant. I’ve tried to cover everything from diet, to lifestyle choices, to strategies for staying sane. But if you’ve got any gems of advice for couples who are trying for a baby, feel free to share them in our comments section. Questions are more than welcome, too.
The Fertile Window
You are fertile for only five or six days in each menstrual cycle – this is referred to as your “fertile window”. And, to increase your chances of getting pregnant, you need to know when your fertile window is and have sex every second day during that time. Your egg can only be fertilized on the day you ovulate (the egg is viable for just 24 hours). Because sperm can survive for up to six days inside your fallopian tubes, your fertile window is the six days leading up to ovulation.
If your cycle is regular, you’re in luck. You should be able to work out when you ovulate by measuring basal body temperature and tracking your cervical discharge. It will take you two or three cycles to work out your fertile window and then you can time your intercourse accordingly. As a rule of thumb, ovulation occurs around 14 days into your cycle (with the first day of your period being day 1). But, every woman’s cycle is different and more precise methods of tracking ovulation could help you get pregnant faster.
The reason that we recommend having sex every second day during your fertile window instead of every day (or even several times a day!) is that you want to keep your partner’s sperm count as high as possible. Give the little guys a chance to build up again by having a day’s break!
A Healthy “Trying to Conceive” Diet
Your physical health and your fertility are intrinsically linked. Giving your body the very best nutrition and getting plenty of exercise not only increases your chances of a healthy conception, it also helps you to prepare for the physical challenges of being pregnant.
A healthy pre-pregnancy diet should include:
- Five to ten servings of fresh fruit or vegetables a day (ditch the cookies and have an apple instead).
- Two or three servings of calcium-rich foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Two servings of whole grain – switch out the white bread.
- Two servings of lean protein such as chicken breast, trim pork, tofu, or eggs.
- Consider taking vitamin, iron and folic acid supplements.
In addition, you should try to be as fit and active as possible. Try and up your exercise by:
- Taking an evening walk with your partner (the perfect chance to talk about your plans for parenting!)
- Parking a little further away and walking to work.
- Joining a gym and taking part in aerobics classes.
- Taking up yoga or pilates.
- Swimming a few laps after work each day.
Lifestyle Choices which can Affect Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
We probably don’t need to tell you this, but recreational drugs, alcohol, and cigarette smoking are not a good idea when you’re trying for a baby. Here are a few of the facts about what these habits can do to your fertility rates:
- Studies show that women who smoke are less likely to produce viable eggs each month. In men, sperm quality is also affected.
- It is believed that, for men who regularly smoke marijuana, the sperm are overactive and tire before being able to successfully fertilize the egg. There is less information available about marijuana’s effects on female fertility.
- Women who drink moderately to heavily (6 or more standard drinks a week) are much more likely to develop fertility problems.
If you do use drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, we’re not condemning you. They can be fun and sociable when you’re younger. But, in addition to increasing your chance of becoming pregnant, if you’re serious about being a parent, now is the best time to stop.
Another lifestyle factor that can affect fertility is when you’re overweight and trying to conceive. If you’re slightly overweight but still have a regular (approximately 28 day) menstrual cycle, you shouldn’t have any more trouble trying to conceive than a woman in the “healthy weight range”. However, some overweight women do have trouble conceiving because they develop Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This affects your egg’s ability to mature and be fertilized when it is released. If you’re worried about your ability to conceive, consider consulting a gynocologist and making changes to your diet and exercise to prepare for pregnancy.
What about Your Partner?
There’s a lot that your partner can do to make sure his sperm are up to the task of fertilizing your egg. He should be following the same pre-pregnancy diet and exercise plan you are – doing it together will be lots more fun! He should also stop using recreational drugs, drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes at least three months before trying to conceive. These changes will greatly improve his sperm count and your chances of getting pregnant.
Staying Sane and Having (Fun What Not to do When Trying to Conceive):
Trying to conceive can become a sort of obsession and, if it doesn’t happen quickly, can really take over your lives and cause a lot of anxiety. This isn’t healthy. Try not to let it happen. Don’t think of every time you have sex as an attempt to get pregnant and don’t restrict intercourse only to your fertile window. This can really really take the intimacy out of your relationship.
Try not to become anxious or stressed about getting pregnant – stress affects all sorts of functions in your body negatively and may actually make it harder to conceive. Stay relaxed – it will happen when the time is right.
Don’t let yourself fall into a black depression every time your period arrives and you realize another cycle has gone by and you’re not pregnant yet. Keep trying and (like we said!) enjoy the experience!
Can the Days You have Sex Affect Whether You have a Boy or Girl?
Modern science says that natural gender determination is unlikely. You’ve got a 50% chance of conceiving your preferred gender. However, some methods, such as “The Shettles Method” do claim that you can affect your child’s sex by how you go about trying to conceive. It’s drug-free and harmless – so trying it can’t hurt if you’ve got a strong preference for one gender. Just don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work out like you planned. Your baby will be beautiful and loveable regardless of whether it’s a he or a she.
More Helpful Articles when You’re Trying to Conceive a Baby
How long is a piece of string? Every couple has a different experience of how long it takes to conceive. Check out the statistics on speed of conception here.
The testing phase can be really hard and the temptation to run off and take a pregnancy test on every coffee break is strong. How do the tests work? When should you take one? And how can you stay sane while you wait to finally get a positive result?
Are their other signs of pregnancy before the missed period or positive pregnancy test? What are some of the symptoms I’m looking out for when I’m trying to conceive? An overview of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy.