Trying for a baby: where to start


Trying for a baby is an exciting time. But, as with all good things, it’s not always easy.

Age, weight, and general wellbeing can all impact on our fertility and it’s impossible to predict how long it will take for
anyone to get pregnant.

Arming yourself with all the relevant info is always the best place to start though.

Baby-1Here’s the Netmums’ beginner’s guide to trying for a baby…
  1. Have sex

Sounds silly, we know, but you
‘d be surprised at how often we’ve interviewed fertility experts and, on asking them for their number one fertility tip, we’ve been told, “Just tell them to have sex!”

The point is, that if you’re doing it only once in a blue moon, and wondering why you’re still not pregnant, you’re simply not doing it enough to be in with a chance.

According to NHS figures, nine out of ten couples where the woman is under 35 will conceive naturally after one year of having regular unprotected sex.

For every 100 couples trying to
conceive naturally:

84 will conceive within one year

92 will conceive within two years

93 will conceive within three years

Source: NHS Choices

NHS guidelines recommend havin
g regular sex throughout the month for the best chance of getting pregnant.

If you’re nervous about turning sex into a chore, then having sex every two to three days is a good way to keep things spontaneous without missing that sought-after ovulation window.

  1. Get your timing right

If you want to maximize your chances of conceiving by having sex when you’re at your most fertile, then finding out when you ovulate is the best next step.

Having sex on and during the few d
ays before this date gives you the best chance of conception.

If you have a regular cycle, an ovulation calculator will help. Simply enter the date of your last period and the average length of your cycle and it will tell you your likely ovulation date.

Other ways to calculate when you
‘re ovulating include:

  • ovulation kits (either urine dipsticks, like pregnancy tests, or saliva ovulation kits, which examine your saliva for signs of ‘ferning’ – a fern-like pattern that indicates you’re about to ovulate. Yes, really!);
  • charting your body’s basal te
    mperature (it dips just before ovulation – just make sure you take it in the first three hours after waking);
  • watching for changes in your cervical mucus – just before ovulation it takes on the appearance of egg white (no one said conception was all Ed Sheeran and sweet nothings!).

While it’s easy to get hung up on whether you are ovulating, experts agree the best thing you can do is relax and have a happy sex life.

To help take the stress out of charting and give yourself more headspace (for all that Ed Sheeran/sweet-nothing stuff), download a fertility app, like th
ese ones recommended by Netmums users.

  1. Watch your weightbaby-2

Being over- or under-weight can af
fect your chances of conceiving because too much or too little body fat can affect your cycle, which in turn can influence your ability to conceive.

NHS guidelines advise that a BMI of over 30 or under 19 can affect fertility, with the safest range being between 20 and 25.

In men, those with a BMI of over
29 are often found to be less fertile.

But it’s also worth looking at your d
iet for reasons other than weight when you’re trying to conceive.

Most significantly, all women trying to conceive, up to the 12th week of pregnancy, are advised to take 400 mcg of folic acid daily in order to reduce their baby’s risk of neural-tube defects (where the spinal cord fails to develop properly) such as spina bifida. Diet and lifestyle play a significant part in the health of you and your baby.

  1. Don’t drink

The Department of Health recom
mends that if you’re pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, you should avoid alcohol altogether.

If you do opt to have a drink, it recommends sticking to no more than one or two units of alcohol (equivalent to one or two small glasses of wine) once or twice a week to minimise the risks alcohol may pose to your baby.

  1. Stop smoking

baby-4Quit smoking for your best chance of conception. Cigarettes contain lots of chemical nasties that can affect the reproductive organs and decrease the chances of conception for both men and women.

  1. Don’t buy Clomid online

The prescription-only fertility drug, Clomid, can be bought online, with a Netmums survey revealing four per cent of women had bought it over the

As well as there being no guarantee of the safety of what you’ve bought, without medical guidance, there’s no way of knowing if Clomid is right for you.

Instead, speak to your GP if you think y
ou might be experiencing fertility problems.

  1. Stress less

While the jury’s still out on whether stress really does reduce fertility, it definitely won’t make your journey towards conception any more fun.

baby-3We know, we know… you want a baby right now, everyone else in the world is pregnant, your mother-in-law keeps asking you whether you’re expecting and with all that salivary ferning and testing the consistency of your cervical mucus, you don’t have much time fo
r relaxation!

But whatever it is that you find relaxing – yoga, acupuncture, exercise… do it!

Find classes near you.

If things don’t go to plan

Give it time. With 84% of couples conceiving natur
ally within one year if they have regular unprotected sex, give it 12 months before going to see your GP for fertility advice, if you’re 35 or under. If you’re 36 or over, or have any known fertility issues, then seek help sooner.

And remember, one in seven couples – approximately 3.5 million people in the UK – may have difficulty conceiving, so if you do need to seek help, you’re not alone. As well as your GP being able to advise on appropriate next steps or treatment, Netmums’ Coffeehouse has a dedicated Trying to Conceive (TTC) board, where there’s always someone ready to chat.

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