When you are trying for a baby it can feel that almost everyone has some advice to offer. For countless women, becoming pregnant is relatively easy, but for others, it can be far more complicated. Our blog below outlines 10 things to do when trying to conceive a baby.
Some women can feel helpless if they do not conceive quickly and can begin to think there may be a serious fertility problem. But, thankfully, there are lots of things women can do to increase their fertility levels and improve their chances of having a baby.
If you are finding it difficult to conceive, or thinking about starting a family, you can take steps to try and help your body through the process.
#1: Stop using contraception
One of the most important things to do when trying for a baby is to stop using contraception.
When you stop using the common methods of contraception, like condoms, or a diaphragm, your fertility will not be disrupted.
Other methods of contraception may have an impact on your fertility.
When you stop taking the contraceptive pill, or injections, your menstrual cycle can take a while to return to normal. Many women prefer to wait a couple of months after coming off the pill before trying for a baby. This gap allows their body time to revert back to their natural menstrual cycles.
#2: Start taking folic acid
Folic acid is essential for the development of a fetus. It is widely recommended to women as a pregnancy supplement that helps prevent neural tube defects, like spina bifida.
You should consider taking a folic acid supplement (400 micrograms per day) three months before trying for a baby and continue throughout the 1st trimester of the pregnancy.
Folic acid already exists within a healthy balanced diet coming from foods like beans, green vegetables and orange juice but it can be difficult to find 400 micrograms of folic acid a day, which is why supplements are very important.
#3: Avoid certain foods when trying for a baby
You need to be very careful about what foods to eat when considering things to do when trying for a baby.
There is lots of medical evidence that suggests avoiding the following foods:
- Raw meat, shellfish and eggs (might contain traces of salmonella).
- High mercury fish like tuna and swordfish (can harm the fetus).
- Trans fats, commonly found in baked goods, chips and microwave popcorn. These fats can damage blood vessels, disrupting the flow of nutrients to the reproductive system. Both men and women should avoid trans fats when trying for a baby.
- All supplements and standard multivitamins should only be taken if it clearly says on the container they are safe to use during pregnancy. Some vitamins, if taken frequently and in high doses, can be extremely dangerous for a developing baby.
- If you are taking any kind of medication make sure you thoroughly discuss this through with your GP and always make sure your pharmacist is informed that you’re pregnant if you ever need any over-the-counter products.
- Dirty vegetables, rare meat and cat poo can all carry toxoplasmosis (may cause a miscarriage or harm your unborn baby). Always wash fruit and vegetables diligently, wear gloves if gardening (better still stop gardening!), let someone else change the cat litter tray and only eat well done cooked meat.
- Soft cheese is delicious, but unfortunately, carries a risk of containing listeria (can increase the risk of miscarriage).
#4: No more smoking, recreational drugs and alcohol
It’s wise to stop taking recreational drugs, smoking and avoid alcohol while you are trying for a baby.
If you are a smoker, or recreational drug user, stopping these habits will vastly improve your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.
There is a lot of medical research on the effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy to identify what, if any, long-term damage alcohol can have on the conception and your baby through pregnancy. The evidence suggests that the more you drink the greater the risk.
If you are thinking of trying for a baby, or if you are already pregnant, then the safest approach for you and your child is to not drink any alcohol at all.
Should your partner smoke, drink or take recreational drugs they too should also consider taking a break. These substances can all have a detrimental effect on the quality of their sperm.
#5: Eat healthy foods
Everyone wants to provide their baby with the best start in life. Eating a healthy balanced diet is one of the most important (and simple) things you can do when trying for a baby.
Make sure you are eating a balanced diet with regular meals that include lots of fresh produce and try to cut down on processed foods, especially ‘fast’ food.
#6: Have sex at the right time
This has nothing to do with rejecting the sexual advances of your loving partner because it’s not quite ‘sex o’clock’ yet!
Did you know that there are only a few days each month when a woman can become pregnant?
Having sex on the day of ovulation (when the female body releases an egg), or the days just before ovulating, will make sure you maximise your chances of conceiving a baby.
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. This means ovulation usually occurs around day 14, but in reality, most women’s cycles fluctuate.
Thankfully, technology has us covered because you can easily track your cycle with an ovulation test to identify your personal cycle length and date of ovulation.
#7: Get your rubella vacination
Catching German measles (rubella) can be very serious for your baby.
Rubella can lead to blindness and deafness for your baby and also result in you losing your pregnancy. Contact your GP to discuss how the rubella vaccination can protect your unborn baby.
#8: Go ‘at it’ like a rabbit during the fertile window
Your “fertile window” normally spans around a six-day interval. The five days leading up to your ovulation and the actual day of ovulation are your most fertile days of the month (see #6).
There is mixed research on the pregnancy rates of couples who have sex every day during the “fertile window”, compared to the couples who have sex every other day. Our recommendation is that you and your partner turn into rabbits over those magical six days!
Have sex as often as you can.
Another heavily debated area which tends to be full of misconceptions and superstitions surrounds the best sexual position for conception. There is actually very little evidence to suggest that one particular sexual position carries more success than another.
Ignore all superstitions and don’t lose sight of the actual event itself – two people, very much in love, creating life (doggy style). 😉
#9: Limit caffeine
If you are someone that walks into your local coffee shop and they know what you’re ordering before you’ve opened your mouth, it’s time to re-evaluate your caffeine intake.
There are lots of medical opinions about the relationship between caffeine and miscarriages. A study on the NHS website suggests that consuming just 200mg or more of caffeine a day can more than double the risk of a miscarriage.
A small cup of coffee is roughly 100mg of caffeine and don’t forget the other sources of caffeine, like fizzy soda drinks and tea. If you are in doubt about how much caffeine you are consuming always remember to check the labels.
Our advice is to cut caffeine completely from your diet whilst you are trying for a baby and throughout your pregnancy.
#10: Go and see your doctor
Number ten in our things to do when trying for a baby sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many women forget to go and see their GP. In the UK we are blessed with one of the best (free) health services in the world. We suggest you use them.
Booking a pre-pregnancy medical check-up a couple of months before you plan to start trying for a baby is a great idea. Your GP will check for STD’s, any vaccinations you might need, monitor your heart and general health conditions like weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. They will also make sure that any hereditary conditions are evaluated.
Your partner should also see their GP. They need to be checked over to make sure they are in prime condition for baby-making. It’s very important your partner has no chronic medical conditions or might be taking medications that may impact their sperm count.
When you become pregnant you will find that your GP is someone you may turn to for advice. A pre-pregnancy check-up helps you to understand if your current doctor is someone you want to go the distance with throughout and after your pregnancy.
Do they listen to you properly, or roll their eyes? Does your GP take the time to address your concerns and discuss these thoroughly with you? Are they dismissive?
You need to be 100% comfortable with your GP, so use this time to make that decision.