So you are ready to conceive a baby. Congratulations! So this first part should be easy, right? Well, maybe. About 30% of couples conceive in the first month of trying, about 60% in three months, and 80% in six months. Older couples usually take longer, and rates of fertility issues have been rising. Luckily, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of conceiving sooner.
Know Your Cycle: No amount of baby-making will conceive a baby if it is not during the right time in your cycle. Couples that chart the mother’s cycle and time their baby-making accordingly are more likely to conceive in each cycle. (You can always practice baby-making at other times too, of course. ;)) A woman charting her cycle is also more likely to notice irregularities so that she can address any potential problems earlier.
Eat Well: Whole grains, lots of veggies and healthy fats (such as those in nuts and olive oil) prepare your body. This is not the time for a low-fat diet. Avoid processed foods. Choose organic veggies when possible (especially the Dirty Dozen) to decrease the amount of pesticides you absorb as these chemicals can linger in your body and may affect the fetus.
Move regularly: Incorporating daily movement into your routine confers many health benefits, among them increased fertility. Moving regularly will also help you maintain a healthy body weight and blood glucose levels, which are important for a healthy pregnancy.
Don’t smoke (or do other drugs): Smoking and other drugs affect your overall health, negatively affecting fertility. Additionally, smoking cigarettes and using other drugs during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Quit now so that you are healthier and do not have to go through withdrawal while pregnant. (Second hand smoke affects you and your baby as well. If your partner or another close friend or family member smokes, encourage them to quit now as well, so your baby will not be exposed.)
Take your vitamins: The most important ingredient in prenatal vitamins is folate/folic acid, which is necessary for healthy brain and nervous system development. Taking prenatals before conceiving will help you build up a store of vitamins and minerals for pregnancy and get you in the habit of taking the vitamins. My favorite vitamin brands are Megafood – they have herbal and non-herbal formulas – New Chapter, and Rainbow Light.
Find Ways to Destress and Relax: Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which can suppress ovulation. Of course, trying to conceive, especially if you have been having trouble, can be very stressful. Try to practice self-care and go out and have some fun.
Reduce your caffeine intake: Three or more cups of coffee or other caffeinated beverage a day may make it more difficult to conceive.
Find Your Healthy Weight: Even losing or gaining a few pounds can increase your fertility. If you are not currently at your healthy weight, I recommend starting a food and movement journal. For more support, I would be happy to work with you one-on-one to help you achieve your weight goals.
Address Pain or Discomfort: Any pain or discomfort, including digestive issues and insomnia, affect your health and fertility. If you are predisposed to fertility problems or have any pain in your abdomen, see a healthcare professional about it as soon as possible. Conditions such as ovarian cysts, fibroids, or sexually transmitted diseases are often undiagnosed and drastically diminish your ability to conceive.
Swap Your Chemical Cleaners and Bath Products for Non-toxic Alternatives: Chemicals in many commercial cleaners may affect your hormones and can also affect your baby once you conceive. Musk fragrances, phthalates (in nail polish and bodycare fragrances), triclosan (in liquid soap and toothpaste) and oxybenzone (in sunscreen) are the most common chemicals that may affect your baby. Some safe cleaning products include Seventh Generation and Ecover, and safe body products include Dr. Hauschka, Motherlove, and Weleda. I also enjoy making my own! For Sunscreen, see EWG’s Sunscreen Guide.
For individualized support to maximize your fertility and increase your chances for a healthy pregnancy, contact me to schedule a free Health Discovery Session.