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I've talked about tips to prepare your body for pregnancy, but I have never actually discussed how best to go about getting pregnant. Before we jump into this topic, it's important to note that these tips may not help you if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or irregular periods. Don't worry, next month will be completely dedicated to PCOS, so we'll touch on it then. However, for those women who have regular cycles, here are a few steps to take to increase your chances of conceiving.
1. Be patient
Being patient is the first tip because most healthy couples with no issues can take 6 months to a year to conceive. This is why we don't consider a couple to be infertile until they have consistently tried for a full year. Stress can throw off your cycle completely, which makes it more difficult to get pregnant. I understand that once the desire to get pregnant hits, you want it to happen right away, and it does for some women. However, it is not unusual to take a couple of months, and it's important to keep your stress levels down and mental health preserved. Please don't panic after the first month of a negative pregnancy test because it doesn't necessarily mean that something is wrong.
2. Track ovulation
This is probably the most important step. Before considering pregnancy, make sure you know your body and are aware of your cycles. Every woman should track the first day of her period each month, as well as the duration of her period. This is important to monitor so that you are aware when something is off and know when to go in for evaluation. It is also important to monitor to determine when you are ovulating. Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary and pushed into the Fallopian tube, which is where it can be fertilized. For women with REGULAR cycles, this typically occurs about 2 weeks before their next period. If you track your periods consistently for a few months, you will start to learn when you are most likely to ovulate. A great app is FLO, as the calendar will give you a window of time when you are fertile and circle the predicted ovulation day. You can also use ovulation tests to double check that you are ovulating. The process is similar to an at-home pregnancy test, but the result tells you if you are likely to ovulate within the next 12-36 hours. If you have PCOS or irregular periods, then you first need to work with your provider to regulate your cycles before tracking them.
3. Intercourse every other day during fertile window
So why is it so important to know when you ovulate? Well, when your egg is released, it is only fertile for about 12-24 hours. That's it, and many women are surprised to hear that their timeframe to conceive is actually much shorter than they originally thought. The good news is that sperm can survive in a women's body for up to 5 days. If you are using the app I referenced to track your cycles, it will tell you when your fertile window is, which is about a week. During this week, you want to have intercourse every other day to increase the chance of sperm being present when your egg is released and able to be fertilized. You can also consider using Pre-seed, which is a lubricant that supports sperm moving through the reproductive tract. In terms of laying down after intercourse or utilizing certain positions, research has found that this does not increase your chances of conceiving.
4. Have a healthy lifestyle
The healthier you are, the more likely your cycles will be regular and your body will be able to support a developing fetus. This includes having a balanced and nutritious diet, regular exercise, and removing excess caffeine, smoking, and alcohol. You also want to start taking a prenatal vitamin daily to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to aid in fetal development. I discuss more about how to incorporate lifestyle changes in this blog post.
Many women who I consult with about getting pregnant admit that they have not been tracking their cycles or having intercourse during their fertile window. This is critical, so I hope this blog post offers some clarity on how to achieve this. If you have any other questions, please feel free to let me know below or reach out!
xoxo, Global Midwife
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, only education. Always check with your healthcare provider.