My husband and I always planned to wait 5 years before having children after we got married. We had big plans to travel and enjoy life with just the 2 of us. But, it wasn’t 18 months after our wedding that I started getting baby fever. I had always wanted to be a mom and we decided that we would start trying and we didn’t need to wait 5 years.
We had our first baby back in 2013. What we didn’t know then, was our sweet baby was truly a miracle baby. When we began trying to conceive again with our second child we encountered heartbreak as we struggled to conceive, lost several pregnancies, endured surgeries and many visits to the infertility clinic.
Luckily in 2018 we were blessed with our beautiful rainbow baby, but in that time, I learned so much. Not only about ways to increase my chances of success, but also became so much more in-tune with my body.
After my infertility experience, I truly believe it is never too soon to become aware and in-tune with our bodies. Whether TTC (trying to conceive) is years, months or weeks away for you, this is the starting point I think every woman should begin.
#1 Tracking Cycles
There are a number of ways to track your cycle including: documenting, basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and ovulation sticks. I love using the Kindara app on my phone to keep track of all my cycles. There are so many great apps out there, but find one that works for you and makes it easy to update.
The whole reason we want to track our cycles is, it is how you will be able to determine your fertile window. A woman’s ovulation is when her egg is released and able to be fertilized. Knowing the timing of your ovulation and timing sex accordingly can help increase your chances of conceiving.
#2 Doctor Visit
Before deciding to conceive it’s a great idea to head to your doctor for a check up. A family planning meeting with your doctor is helpful in discussing healthy body weight, screening and treatment for infectious disease, updating immunizations, and medication review that may lead to possible birth defects.
If you have an underlying condition like diabetes, hypertension, seizures, or other health conditions, it’s great to develop a plan prior to becoming pregnant. This will help ensure both you and your baby remain healthy.
#3 Prenatal Vitamins
At your doctor visit be sure to discuss which prenatal vitamins they recommend for you. It is recommended to take at least 400 mcg of folic acid and 30 mg of elemental iron to promote brain, muscle and bone development in your baby.
You can begin taking your prenatal vitamins while you are TTC and be assured your growing baby is getting all the vitamins and minerals that they need.
#4 Healthy Lifestyle
Eating a well balanced diet combined with moderate exercise are great habits to begin even before TTC.
Avoiding negative health behaviors like smoking, vaping, drugs and alcohol are encouraged before TTC. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you need help with eliminating these from your lifestyle.
#5 Optional: Genetic Screening
Some couples decide they would like to get tested to determine if they are carriers for recessive genetic disorders prior to TTC.
It takes two genes—one inherited from the mother and one inherited from the father—for a person to get a recessive disorder. If a person has only one gene for a disorder, he or she is known as a carrier. Carriers often do not know that they have a gene for a disorder. They usually do not have symptoms or have only mild symptoms.
Knowing whether you or your partner or carriers for recessive disorders can be helpful in the family planning process.
Now that you have been charting your cycles and ovulation, you can now time sex to coincide with your ovulation to help increase your chances of success. A woman’s egg is only viable for about 24 hours while sperm can live up to 3-5 days in a woman’s body. Having sex once per day or once every other day in your fertile window is very helpful when trying to conceive.
There is no scientific evidence that a certain sex position is better than another. My suggestion is to think about gravity. We want to encourage the sperm to swim toward your cervix and up into the uterus. If that can happen in the position you are in, that you are probably just fine.
It is recommended that laying in bed for 10-15 minutes after intercourse can be helpful. This allows the sperm that are going to swim up into the cervix to do so.
Not all lubricants are TTC friendly. Your natural cervical mucus helps move sperm along and most lubricants can interfere with your cervical mucus by changing the pH level and reducing the sperm’s motility. If you need to use a lubricant try using a “sperm friendly” option like Pre-Seed.
There is debate about whether a female orgasm can help propel sperm into the cervix via uterine contractions. One thing is for sure though, an orgasm helps you relax, less stressed and enjoy the moment more. The same goes for a man. Research does show that when a man is fully stimulated, they can release more sperm. This is great when TTC.
My advice…..spend time together, make it fun, and why not have great sex during this journey of TTC. This whole process can be stressful and this is one way to livin’ things up and have fun!
When to Seek Help?
For most couples you can wait 1 year before seeing a fertility doctor, but for women over 35, you may want to head in sooner after 6 months of TTC. The same goes for women who have irregular periods or other health issues that may make TTC more difficult like a history of STI’s, ectopic pregnancy, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Remember too that it’s not always the woman. Sometimes the root cause for difficulties is the woman, the man or even both.
This was the case for my husband and I when we dove deeper into our infertility. We both had challenges we needed to overcome in order to conceive.
Other times, infertility can be unexplained. The best action is to seek help when you are ready or feel there might be something wrong.
Overall, I hope you found this blog helpful! I wish you the best on your TTC journey and always remember to relax, have fun and enjoy the moment during this process!