You’ve made the momentous decision to start trying for a baby, now what do you do? Well, before you dive feet-first into a 20-page TTC forum or start chatting to your mama-of-three BFF on how she did the deed (‘really, you kept your legs up in the air for how long?’), we’ve got a bunch of tips you’re going to want to jot down. We promise you’ll find no myths, no baby dust rituals, and no patronising ‘just relax’ advice. Instead, only actionable, expert-approved ways to help get your mind and body prepped and primed for pregnancy.
Understand Your Cycle
You’re not alone if up until this point you’ve only tracked your cycle to see if your period was about to interfere with your social life. So, now’s the time to familiarise yourself with the natural rhythm of your menstrual cycle, identifying your ovulation window along the way. This is particularly important if you’ve recently stopped taking hormone contraceptives like the pill, as your cycle may be a tad irregular while your body adjusts.
You can use various tools to help keep track, from ovulation testing kits to apps and body temperature monitoring. Typically ovulation occurs about 10-16 days before your period and is classed as the most fertile window to conceive as it’s when your egg is released into your womb. NHS England recommends having sex every 2-3 days throughout your cycle and to try time sex during ovulation to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
It’s easy to get carried away with the science of it all, but we’d say track your ovulation to better understand your body and your cycle, but try not to obsess over it every month. Because nothing screams romance like an ‘ovulating today’ note on your shared calendar. Try to approach it with an open mind and without adding extra pressure to you or your partner.
Take Prenatal Supplements
Taking conception-boosting supplements can be like giving your reproductive organs a pep talk to do their thing effectively. Fertility vitamins for men and women – including zinc, selenium, fish oil and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – are said to help support the body in a range of ways from promoting egg health to increasing sperm count.
It is recommended, by the NHS, to take 400 micrograms of folic acid (vitamin B-9) daily, before pregnancy and until you’re 12 weeks pregnant. This is because it reduces the risk of neural defects for the baby so it’s recommended to start taking it separately or as part of a multivitamin from the time you decide to try for a baby.
Always be sure to check out the ingredients label on multivitamins to see what’s included in each tablet and whether they’re safe for continued use during pregnancy. While there’s still more research to be done around the effectiveness of supplements and the role they play in fertility, we recommend viewing them as a way to support your overall healthy lifestyle. Speaking of…
Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle
Following a healthy lifestyle can improve your chances of conception as it helps keep hormones balanced and promotes egg and sperm health. While the advice may differ from book to book, expert to expert, we’ve noticed a few suggestions that crop up time and time again when it comes to priming your body for optimum fertility health.
So, cut down on things like alcohol, caffeine and refined sugar and make sure you’re keeping your body hydrated, full of antioxidant-packed foods (like veggies) and moving. Adopt these habits as part of your daily routine with the view of it becoming a lifestyle change as opposed to a ‘fertility-focused diet’.
If you or your partner haven’t kicked the habit yet, there’s no time like the present to stop smoking once and for all. Countless medical reports cite all the ways smoking, as well as inhaling second-hand smoke, can damage your body and chances of conception – from impacting fertility health to increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and low birth weight.
Due to all the detrimental effects of smoking, every health professional you come across will suggest you quit smoking during pregnancy so by stopping before conception, you’ll be well on your way to creating a healthy environment for your baby to grow and thrive.
For help, check out our top tips on how to stop smoking.
Have Fun With It
We can bang on about all this other stuff, but let’s face it, you need to be having sex (and a lot of it!) to increase your chances of getting pregnant. For couples that have been trying to conceive for a while, the fun can start to wane, so try to regroup with your partner and find ways to put the fun back into the process. From spontaneous date nights to new accessories in the bedroom, try to have sex because you want to, not because you feel you have to.
Understanding Pregnancy Tests
Don’t drive yourself mad at 2 am googling ‘early pregnancy symptoms’. Instead, stock up now on pregnancy tests so that when you notice any changes like a delayed period or boob tenderness, you can get an answer in the comfort of your own home.
There are different types of at-home pregnancy tests, from super savvy digital tests (some can also estimate how far along you are) to early detection midstream tests. Always follow the box instructions and if you need extra help, we’ve pulled together everything you need to know about how to do an at-home pregnancy test.
Put Your Wellbeing First
The journey to parenthood is different for everyone – and it’s important to keep reminding yourself of that throughout. It can also be a very sensitive topic within your relationship with your partner and your close circle, so make sure you put in place boundaries so that people know how comfortable you are opening up about what you’re going through.
Do what you need to support your wellbeing, whether that’s practising mindfulness and meditation or enjoying a digital detox to shut out all the noise (and ill-timed, picture-perfect baby announcements).
Trying For More Than a Year?
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while naturally and you’d like more medical advice and support, book in with your GP.