I will never forget the day that my partner and I decided to try for a baby. We had always known we wanted to be parents at some point in our lives, but it had always felt like a far away dream, something we would do years into the future. Soon after moving into our new home however, the desire to start a family of our own really started to set in, much earlier than either of us expected. We decided that we would stop using contraception, and take a fairly relaxed ‘qué será?’ approach to getting pregnant. I am a strong believer in fate, and that if something happens it was meant to happen, and therefore we didn’t say we were trying for a baby, more so that we were no longer trying NOT to have one.
Clearly when it comes to conceiving, a lot of it is down to mother nature and some degree of luck, with some external factors affecting your chances of getting pregnant. There are lots of things you can do to give yourself the best chances of getting pregnant. Here are my thoughts on preparing your body (and mind) for pregnancy, and giving yourself the best chance of conceiving.
Know your Body
One of the first most practical steps towards getting pregnant is to understand your body and know what is normal for you. Whether your menstrual cycle is long or short, consistent or otherwise, it is useful to take some time to track your periods, helping you identify your average cycle length, the average duration of your periods, and therefore your best estimate on when you are likely to be ovulating. If your lucky enough to have periods that come each month like clockwork this will be very straightforward. If you are a little more varied in your monthly visits however, you may wish to monitor your periods over a six month timescale in order to give you more of an average result.
By paying more attention to your periods, you can identify the most likely window of opportunity, whereby your chances of getting pregnant are at their highest.
There are plenty of apps available that can help you do this, but even making a note in your diary can be just as effective. It is worth noting here that ovulation dates can vary from person to person, and aren’t always slap bang in the middle of your cycle. It is a predictor at best, and therefore you may wish to have sex around either side of these dates in order to heighten your chances.
This can be easier said than done, particularly if you have been trying to conceive for some time or feel desperate to start a family of your own. Try not to worry or put too much pressure on both you or your partner. Do not panic if you don’t fall pregnant straight away – these things can take time, and there are lots of other external factors that can affect whether or not your attempts are successful. It is perfectly normal to experience some disappointment when your period arrives but don’t get despondent. Try not to become too obsessed with dates and ovulation periods and ENJOY the sex – the last thing you want is for your love life to just feel robotic or forced and simply a baby making mission. Keep it spontaneous and fun, and remember how sex used to feel before you were trying for a baby.
Diet and Supplements
When trying for a baby, it’s important that you eat well and in particular keep your iron and vitamin D levels high. You may also wish to take a supplement containing folic acid, which is particularly important for the babies first weeks and helps encourage healthy bone growth. Although not essential you may wish to reduce your alcohol consumption, as well as eating a diet high in fruit, protein and green vegetables.
In an ideal world your body will be at its optimum weight before pregnancy, so staying fit and exercising regularly is a great way to ensure your body is physically strong and ready for the 9 month physical challenge ahead. You don’t have to be running marathons or in the gym every single day, but 30 minutes of gentle exercise daily that raises your heart rate slightly is a great place to start. This can be as simple as a walk around the block, a quick cycle, or even dancing around to your favorite music in the living room – whatever works for you.
Getting out in the fresh air can also be a huge stress release, and help you keep your body AND mind calmer and more relaxed.
Don’t overdo it!
Finally, don’t overdo it. There is a misconception sometimes that you need to be having sex all the time in order to get pregnant. This is actually not the case, as sperm can live inside the body for 3-5 days at a time. Even those with high libido need a rest occasionally, and you don’t want it to feel like a chore. If having sex daily works for you, then by all means carry on, but don’t force it. Do what works for both you and your partner.
For those of you just starting on your journey to conceive, I wish you all the best – it can be a nerve wracking and anxious time, but try and relax and enjoy the journey – if nothing else make the most of having sex completely spontaneously and undisturbed, as when your baby does arrive on the scene, those moments can be few and far between!