Once most women decide to take that leap of having a baby, the sooner they conceive, the better. Thanks to the number of old wives’ tales surrounding how to fall pregnant, it can be hard to know what information is good, and what is myth that has managed to persist through time despite being patently false. For all the soon-to-be mothers hoping to shorten their trip toward baby joy, here are some tips for getting that bun in the oven.
Prior to trying for a baby, it’s best to make an appointment with a healthcare professional who can help make recommendations tailored to your unique situation. This visit will mainly be to look over you medical history for any red flags that may pertain to conception or pregnancy, outlining any possible issues that may crop up during pregnancy as a result of past medical conditions or procedures. This is also a good time to discuss any medications you take with your doctor, in case they might have an impact on fertility or the development of your baby.
At this time, your doctor will most likely want to perform a full gynecological exam, blood and STD tests, a test for rubella immunity— if you’re not immune, it’s recommended to receive a vaccine, then wait three months before attempting to conceive— and, depending on your family history, possible genetic tests. Your doctor will also more than likely recommend beginning a prenatal vitamin. While it might seem unrelated, this might also be a good time to see your dentist: Elizabeth Stein, a certified nurse midwife, makes this suggestion to all her patients following research connecting late miscarriages with maternal periodontal disease.
Break Up With Birth Control
Obviously stopping birth control methods is necessary to becoming pregnant, but some methods may need to be discontinued earlier than others. Stopping birth control pills, patches, or rings and removing an IUD should result in near-immediate return of fertility, but for women who use Depo-Provera shots, the effects may be a bit more long-lasting. Stein recommends women who want to become pregnant within the next year discontinue their shots because, despite needing one every three months, it could take much longer to return to fertility, and there is no medication to shorten the effects. For women planning to become pregnant but not quite ready, switching to a barrier form of birth control should significantly shorten the process once the time is right.
Track Your Ovulation
There are a number of means available for figuring out the ideal time to do the dirty when trying to conceive. An easy and affordable way to figure out when you’re ovulating is to keep track of your menstrual cycle: most women ovulate around 14 days before the last day of the cycle, the day before your period starts. For women who aren’t sure about the length of their cycle, using a calendar to record when your period starts, ends, and starts again can help pinpoint the peak of your fertility.
Another means of accomplishing this is charting basal body temperature (BBT). This necessitates the purchase of a basal thermometer, but provides a more foolproof method for narrowing down ovulation times. Typically, women who are ovulating should notice a slight drop in temperature the day they ovulate, then a spike that lasts until the beginning of their period. Doing this for several months will help you familiarize yourself with your menstrual cycle, making it much easier to determine when conception is most likely.
Once you’ve determine where in your cycle you ovulate, it’s best to have sex at least every other day in the six days leading up to ovulation, often called the “fertile window”. This is because an unfertilized egg survives only 12-24 hours after ovulation, while sperm can live anywhere from 48 to 72 hours after sex. Having sex before ovulation gives the best chances of sperm and egg meeting up in the narrow time period where both are viable.
Detoxify Your Body
A number of daily indulgences can lower fertility; for women hoping to fast track conception, it’s best to limit intake of these common things. Caffeine should be kept below 500 mg per day, the rough equivalent of five cups of coffee, as high caffeine consumption has been linked to decreased fertility. Alcohol is another key player in affecting fertility, with a higher risk of infertility linked to consuming two or more drinks per day. Blood mercury levels have also seen some indication of reducing fertility, meaning fish consumption should be limited as well. Ladies needn’t be the only ones who suffer the trials attempting to conceive: smoking has been associated with decreased fertility in men and women as well as lowered sperm count and motility, meaning men should kick the habit, too.
While all of these things can help shorten the road to pregnancy, it’s important to remember to relax. Growing evidence links stress to infertility, so getting worked up over trying to conceive is not only unhelpful, but directly detrimental. If you’re experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, medical intervention may help. For women under 35, it’s generally advised to seek medical advice if not pregnant within a year; over 35, talk to your doctor after six months.