On ‘Trying’ to Conceive
If you’ve made the conscious decision to try for a baby you’ll likely be excited by the prospect. This excitement can rapidly change to disappointment as the months go by with no positive news to share. The reality is that only 68% of people will conceive in the first 3 months of trying. 92% of people will conceive within 1 year of trying, with 98% conceiving within 2 years. Despite what the ‘it only took one time’-ers say, it’s not abnormal for it to take a while. This is even more true if you’ve just come off the contraceptive pill for example. So if your periods are regular and you have no reason to believe there’s anything amiss going on, don’t assume there’s anything wrong with you if it doesn’t instantly happen (speaking from experience). That being said, do trust your gut if you think there could be something amiss, you know your body better than anyone.
There’s no magic formula to ensure quicker conception, although a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, reducing alcohol consumption and kicking the smoking habit are contributing factors; as is stress reduction. Of course some people DO manage to get pregnant after a one-time encounter, despite drinking in excess and eating poorly – such is life! If that isn’t you, and if you’re losing faith, then here are some tips to help you regain a sense of control and work towards being happier and healthier in general, which can only be a good thing.
There are a myriad of apps out there to track your period, ovulation and the number of times you have intercourse right down to cervical mucus and PMS symptoms. They’re useful to use before you start trying to conceive if only to track your overall health – how regular your periods are, any symptoms you experience etc. They’re also really helpful in pinning down your fertile window so you can ensure you plan sexy time at the right time.
Top Tip: Make sure they’re helping, not hindering – they’re there as an aside and they’re not 100% accurate all of the time in predicting ovulation, so view them as a helping hand, not gospel.
Apps to explore: Flo, Ovia Fertility, Natural Cycles, Glow, Fertility Friend etc
The power of positivity is hugely important; you must believe it can happen. If you think it’ll be a struggle, it probably will be. If you know you’ve got the tendency to have a negative mindset, then work on it. If you notice yourself feeling resentful of others getting pregnant know that this is entirely natural, but try to remember that you have no idea what journey other people have been on, and there isn’t a limited amount of pregnancy to go around! Negativity breeds negativity, so find a way to harness positivity.
Top Tip: Reset the way you view your period – the first day of your period is the first day of a new cycle, and a new chance to get pregnant. You’re allowed to feel sad about its arrival, let yourself be sad, get it out of your system, then move on and embrace the new hope.
Read: How the mind can heal the body, Dr David Hamilton and Yes, You Can Get Pregnant: Natural Ways to Improve Your Fertility Now and Into Your 40s. by. Aimee E. Raupp
Dealing with Stress
Stress can be a major obstacle. If you’re feeling frazzled emotionally or physically, unhappy at work, struggling with toxic people in your life, or are dealing with anxiety or depression, these can all hamper the fertility journey. The best way to combat stress is through meditation, yoga practise, or through alternative therapies. Holistic therapies like acupuncture and reflexology have been proven to promote relaxation and are often used to aid conception.
Top Tip: Trying to conceive in itself can also cause stress and upset. The key is to talk about it; whether that be with a counsellor, GP, selected friend or family member. Reach out to a trusted confidant who is completely non-judgemental and will deal with your feelings in a sensitive, thoughtful and understanding way. Avoid anyone likely to tell you to ‘just relax’! Your holistic therapist is likely to be a great impartial person to speak to about your anxieties.
Holistic Therapists: Hull Acupuncturists Community Practise and Private Practise (https://www.heycommunityacupuncture.co.uk/), Core Acupuncture with Jane Marsh https://www.coreacupuncture.co.uk/, Pure Holistics http://pure-holistics.com/appointments/
Body Belief meditation by Amy E. Raupp https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=231213108120283
Ovulation Prediction Tools
In addition to apps there are now more ways than ever to predict ovulation: ovulation sticks, temperature tracking and even saliva testing!
Top Tip: These can all be expensive over time, and not always accurate. If you’re having regular sex and taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing don’t bother with the investment. Testing can become addictive which can turn everything into more of a chore in the longer run.
Apps to test temperature include Ava Bracelet and standard thermometers like those supplied with the Natural Cycles App subscription. Saliva testing home mini labs are a new phenomenon by Inne. Personally I wouldn’t bother with these pricey options. As for ovulation sticks, if you’re going to use them, buy ovulation test strips in bulk – the simple ones work just the same as anything fancy so don’t let them break the bank.
Diet and Exercise
Preparing your body by eating healthy food and exercising regularly are important. Certain foods also help regulate your hormones and cycles, and there are plenty of recipe ideas out there to support this. When it comes to exercise HIIT Training can actually have an adverse effect, so opt for lighter exercise. Save the hardcore training for around ovulation, and take it easier for the rest of your cycle – walks in the great outdoors, yoga, pilates all count. Try out some yoga poses that increase blood circulation to your pelvic region.
Top Tip: You’re allowed to treat yourself – the odd glass of wine is not going to ruin your efforts and that chocolate bar is 100% required – the key is not to completely deprive yourself of the good things in life – this would only cause more stress!
Check out ‘Eat Yourself Pregnant’ by Zita West for some tasty options.
Vitamins and Supplements
Start taking prenatal supplements to prepare your body. Omega 3 and Evening Primrose Oil also work well for improving cervical mucus. For certain cycle types the herb Agnus Castus has been known to be effective in promoting ovulation when taken from day 1 to ovulation only – although it’s always best to do your own research and speak to your GP to determine what is right for you and your health.
Top Tip: Don’t take on an empty stomach!
Pregnacare supplements tend to be most commonly used, but there are many out there to choose from.
Doing the deed
The most important part! You don’t have to be at it 24/7, some studies say daily sex isn’t best for optimal sperm health (although the verdict is out), but if you do it often enough you don’t need to worry about tracking ovulation and can just enjoy the process. If your periods are irregular then every other day during your cycle is the best bet to make sure you catch your fertile window, otherwise three or so times a week during your fertile period should do the trick. Studies have also shown higher success rates if you don’t get up straight away afterwards.
Top Tip: Focus first on each other; remember that the baby is a result of you two being in love, so don’t make the love-making all about the baby!
Sperm Friendly Lubrication to give a try: Concieve+ or PreSeed.
The long and short
If you’ve been trying for a year (or 6 months if you’re over 35) – then speak to your GP. Blood tests and sperm analysis may indicate whether you are indeed ovulating, whether there are any issues to consider, or whether it’s simply a matter of time. Don’t forget that it takes two to tango – it isn’t all on the woman’s health. Your partner should also be looking after himself too, and you need to communicate. If you’ve been trying for a while sex can end up feeling like a chore – both of you bear the brunt of that so be open with each other about the impact.
You often hear people say ‘when we stopped trying it just happened’. While it’s impossible not to think about it if you’re trying for a baby and really want one, if you shift the focus slightly onto being healthy and happy as you currently are, and focus on what you’re grateful that you DO have, then the pressure you put on yourself to have that baby may feel a little less.
As someone said to me ‘it will happen when your body is ready’. Believe that, but also know that life can be wonderful both with and without a small person. Always be kind to yourself and have faith that your path in life has the potential to be completely fulfilling whatever hand you are dealt.