Trying for a baby? Your guide to trying to conceive

The best tips and tricks on how to try for a baby. Everything you need to know about your body, the signs of ovulation, and getting pregnant.

It can be an exciting time when you and your partner decide to start trying for a baby. However, trying to conceive can also bring about stress, especially if it’s taking longer than you expected. Some people can get pregnant straight away, whereas others may need additional help. 

We’ve put together this guide on the best time to conceive, how to increase your chances, and other factors to consider when trying to get pregnant.

What should I do when trying to conceive?

Conception happens when a sperm cell fertilises an egg. In the case of traditional (non-assisted) conception, you need to have unprotected, penetrative sex for this to happen.

A good place to start is to keep track of your menstrual cycle as your fertility changes throughout the month. Ovulation happens when the egg gets released from the ovary and travels down your fallopian tube; this is when you’re most fertile and is called your fertile window. 

If your usual cycle is 28 days, ovulation will happen about 14 days before your next period. Signs of ovulation include changes in cervical mucus, increased body temperature, and increased sexual desire

If you’d like to keep track of your fertile window, you can use an ovulation predictor kit. Ovulation test strips measure levels of hormones in your urine. An increase in luteinising hormone (LH) means that ovulation is about to happen, so once your levels rise, your chances of getting pregnant are more likely. You can also use an ovulation calculator to keep track of your fertility. 

How often should I have sex when trying for a baby?

For the greatest chances of conceiving, you should be aiming to have sex every day. However, as your fertility levels change throughout the month, it’s important to be timing sex so that you try to conceive when you’re most fertile.

Not everyone has the time or energy to be having sex every day. If you’re forcing yourself to have sex every day, this could damage your relationship with your partner if you’re not enjoying yourselves. If the process begins to feel like a chore, focus on having sex during your most fertile days for the best chances.

What should I do if my period comes early?

It can be disheartening when you think you may be showing early signs of pregnancy and your period starts. If you’d like to take a break from trying to conceive, this may be a good time for it. 

However, there’s still a possibility of getting pregnant whilst on your period, as ovulation cycles can change. Sperm can also survive in the vagina for up to 5 days after ejaculation, so it’s not impossible, although your chances are reduced. 

If you’re feeling low on the day of your period, try not to be too hard on yourself. Taking a break from trying to conceive can help you re-gather your thoughts and feel more positive the next time you try. Allow yourself to rest and keep an eye on your next time of ovulation, so that you can try again during your fertile window.

What foods or vitamins should I eat?

Certain foods can increase your fertility and therefore increase your chances of conceiving. It’s important to eat healthily during pregnancy, but you can start making changes to your diet as soon as you begin to try for a baby.

One of the key vitamins for fertility is folic acid (vitamin B9). Folic acid helps form healthy cells and also reduces the risk of birth defects. It occurs in dark, leafy greens (such as spinach, kale, and broccoli), beans, nuts, and some fortified cereals. However, folic acid can be hard to find in foods; you can take a daily folic acid vitamin instead. Taking a prenatal vitamin is also recommended, even if it’s not specifically folic acid, as this will ensure you’re getting enough nutrients.

Other nutrients you need include calcium (found in dairy products like yoghurt and milk), iron (lean meats and spinach), and omega-3 fatty acids (fish, nuts, and seeds). These foods can increase fertility in both male and female bodies.

One of the best rules to follow as you prepare for pregnancy is to eat the healthiest version of your regular diet. Make sure you’re eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and try to get a good balance of the food groups (carbohydrates, protein, dairy, fat, and fruits and vegetables). Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine, as these negatively affect your fertility.

When should I consider other options?

Certain factors affect how long it takes to conceive. Your fertility declines with age, making it harder to get pregnant as you get older. In women, fertility decreases at around 35; it’s slightly later in men, between 40 and 45. 

If you’ve had a miscarriage, this doesn’t affect your chances of getting pregnant again and producing a healthy baby. However, if you’ve miscarried multiple times, your chances may be slightly lower. 

If you’ve been having regular, unprotected sex for over a year without a result, it might be worth speaking to someone. It may be that one of you is infertile, which decreases your ability to conceive. However, there are always other options for having a baby; for example, IVF or surrogacy are other  ways to have a biological child if you or your partner are struggling with infertility. 

Final thoughts from Kami

Trying to conceive can be stressful to navigate if you’re unsure about certain parts of the process. Sometimes you only need to try for a month before you get pregnant; other times, it can take years. Ultimately, it’s important not to lose heart if the process takes longer than you expect. Every couple is different, and getting pregnant (whether it’s in 2 weeks or 2 years) will show you that every step was worth it.

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