Tips for conceiving if you’re trying to have a baby
Lots of things have to happen at the same time for you to become pregnant. Fertility varies from person to person, with different chances of getting pregnant. The first tip for becoming pregnant is to understand your menstrual cycle and find out when you ovulate to improve your chances of conception. Read our guide including well-known methods to give you the best chance of having a baby.
6 min read
Reviewed by Jenny Jansson
You can become pregnant only when you're ovulating. This happens in the middle of your menstrual cycle if you have an average menstrual cycle of twenty-eight days. If your menstrual cycle is twenty-eight days, ovulation usually occurs around days twelve and sixteen. If the cycle is between twenty-seven and thirty-four days, ovulation occurs between days eleven and twenty-two. If you are unsure, you can use an ovulation test, which measures the amount of hormone that is increased during ovulation.
Don't forget to have sex!
Sperm often needs a few days to build up to a good level. That's why it's a good idea to have sex every other day during your fertile period, around twelve to thirteen days before your next period, if you have regular periods. You might feel under pressure to have sex on a schedule, especially if you have children, but see it as a challenge where you both work on timing and desire!
Take vitamin D
Make sure you get enough vitamin D so you don't have any problems with ovulation. Experience half an hour of sunlight every day so your body generates enough vitamin D. You can also gain vitamin D from oily fish and supplements in the winter.
Stay in shape
If you and your partner are fit it can boost your chances of getting pregnant. If you don't already have a routine, try to exercise for half an hour a day even if it's just going for a walk. Physical activity can reduce the risk of infertility as it stabilises insulin levels. Yoga is a great exercise if you’re trying to have a baby. Yoga helps you to relax and maintain flexibility. It can increase blood flow to your pelvis which stimulates hormone-producing glands.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being underweight or overweight can disturb your menstrual cycle which makes it harder to spot when you ovulate. A normal weight is best for fertility - a BMI of twenty to twenty-five is perfect. If you're overweight losing just five per cent of your body weight can have a positive effect. Being overweight can also increase the risk for gestational diabetes.
If you're very stressed the stress hormone cortisol can build up in your body. Cortisol stops the production of the LH hormone that stimulates sex hormone production. Less stress is better for sex hormone production.
Eat a balanced diet
Iron from fruit and vegetables is good for fertility. Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables so you get the right vitamins and minerals to increase the chances of getting pregnant. Make sure you eat enough of the right protein, fat, carbohydrates and minerals.
Folic acid is key for fertility and decreases the risk of your baby having central nervous system damage. Take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day which is the NHS recommendation for women who are trying to have a baby.
If you regularly use medicines, including over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies, it's a good idea to check that they don't impair your chances of getting pregnant. Some painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicine can affect ovulation and decrease fertility.
Stop using contraceptives
Everyone knows that you need to stop using contraception when you're trying to have a baby. But don't forget that it can take up to six months for your menstrual cycle to get back to normal. Some women get their periods back straight away but for some, it takes longer.
STIs can damage fertility. Scarring in your Fallopian tubes can reduce the chances of getting pregnant and might lead to an ectopic pregnancy.
If you're finding it hard to get pregnant you should check you don't have an infection. A gynaecological ultrasound examination can discover any scarring. Scarring can also be caused by an operation to remove the placenta or an earlier caesarean.
Don't drink alcohol
Drinking alcohol regularly can negatively affect ovulation and is a risk factor for infertility. High alcohol consumption can also decrease sperm quality. It's best if both of you stop drinking to be on the safe side.
Smoking can negatively affect the function of the ovaries and egg production. Smoking also decreases progesterone production - the hormone that makes the egg attach to the lining of the womb. If you smoke you'll find it more difficult to get pregnant than if you don't smoke. If a male partner smokes he will probably have lower quality, fewer sperm. It's best if you both stop smoking.
Studies have shown that five cups of coffee a day can halve the chances of getting pregnant compared to no more than three cups of coffee a day. If you're a coffee lover you don't need to stop drinking coffee, just cut down.
Go to the dentist
Bacteria that cause inflammation around your teeth can cause fertility problems. The inflammation disturbs bodily functions. Women with poor dental health can find it hard to get pregnant. Make an appointment with your dentist or dental nurse to get your teeth checked properly.
Good to know
It can take a long time to have a baby. If you aren't pregnant a year after trying you can be referred to a gynaecologist. Over-production or under-production of the thyroid hormone can make it harder to get pregnant. There is a medicine you can take to correct this and increase your chances of having a baby. Don't hesitate to seek help if you've been trying for over a year to have a baby without success.
Reviewed by Jenny Jansson
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