App ‘Clue’ tracks reproductive health data
Even with the modern conveniences of computers and smartphones, tracking reproductive and sexual health can be difficult and boring.
At doctor’s offices, women are expected to recall the date and details of their last period. Each day, it can be a struggle remembering to take a birth control pill.
What women want — and medical professionals and researchers crave — is convenient, accurate and intelligent health data.
Meet Clue: a mobile app for inputting and analysing personal health information. With large, colourful buttons for several health topics, the app tries to make data entry fast and fun.
“Great all around; I’ve enjoyed using this and feel like a research scientist every time I input data,” one app user submitted to Clue. Another wrote: “It’s great to get the notifications when I get too busy with life. I can share info with my doctor much easier because Clue does the work for me. Simple design and very user friendly. I have recommended it to all my girlfriends and even my daughter.”
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.
Here’s the Netmums’ beginner’s guide to trying for a baby…
- 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 having 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.
- Get your timing right
If you want to maximise 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 days 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 temperature (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 these ones recommended by Netmums users.
- Watch your weight
Being over- or under-weight can affect 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 diet 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.
- Don’t drink
The Department of Health recommends 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.
- Stop smoking
Quit 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.
- 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 Internet.
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 you might be experiencing fertility problems.
- 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.
We 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 for 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 naturally 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.
Pregnancy Nutrition Dos and Don’ts
Eating right during pregnancy can be confusing. In the next nine months, what you eat, what you drink, how physically active you are and what you weigh all have the potential to affect your child’s current and future growth.
In fact, a growing body of research finds that conditions in utero (i.e., while you’re pregnant) have the potential to affect your child’s health even decades down the road. For instance, one study found that women who drink during pregnancy could increase their child’s risk of alcohol addiction later in life, even with just one drinking binge. Other studies suggest significant correlations between a mother’s nutrition during pregnancy and her child’s risk for being overweight and developing diabetes and heart disease later in life.
The message? Eat right today and prevent future health problems for your child.
There are two components to “eating right” when you’re pregnant. One is the type of food you’re eating, and the other is how much weight you gain.
For many women, pregnancy is the first time in their lives when gaining weight is a good thing—but don’t go overboard. You do not need to consume any more calories than your normal daily intake during your first trimester. After the first 12 weeks, you may consume up to 300 extra calories per day.
Here’s what the Institute of Medicine recommends:
- If you are of normal weight when you get pregnant, you should gain between 25 and 35 pounds: no more than five to 10 pounds in the first 20 weeks, and about a pound per week for the remainder of your pregnancy.
- If you’re overweight when you get pregnant, you should gain only between 15 and 25 pounds.
- If you’re obese, you should gain 11 to 20 pounds.
- If you’re underweight, you should gain 28 to 40 pounds.
- Your health care professional will help you determine your weight gain goals.
If you are overweight, try and lose some weight before you get pregnant. Women who are overweight have a higher risk of emergency cesarean, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and miscarriage. There also is a greater risk of delivery complications.
Now, onto what you eat.
First, make your diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Go light on the saturated fat (i.e., red meat and whole-milk dairy) and aim for as few processed foods as possible. Maintain this eating regimen throughout your pregnancy.
Here are some special considerations for the pregnant woman:
- Don’t eat raw or undercooked seafood or meats.
- Reduce your risk for listeriosis, an illness caused bybacteria found in unpasteurized milk, soft cheese, raw vegetables and shellfish. Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating and thoroughly cook shellfish. Make sure your milk is pasteurized and stick with hard cheeses like cheddar and parmesan.
- Eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week, choosing from a variety of fish and other seafood. Avoid tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel, and limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. These fish may contain high levels of methyl mercury, which could affect afetus‘s developing brain. Pregnant or breastfeeding women do not need to limit canned light or dark tuna or tuna steaks. In fact, eating at least 8 ounces of seafood per week may help with your child’s visual and intellectual development.
- Take your prenatal vitamin daily for the extra iron andfolic acid you need throughout your pregnancy (and before).
- Skip the alcohol. Any alcohol.
- Limit caffeine.
Talk to your health care professional about any special dietary concerns (if you’re vegetarian or vegan, for example).
How Will I Know I’m in Labor?
That’s a very good question, particularly since you may have been experiencing “false” contractions, known as Braxton Hicks contractions, for weeks. To tell if it’s the “real” thing, time the contractions (which feel like strong menstrual cramps in the beginning) from the start of the one to the start of the next. If they come consistently, with about the same amount of time in between and become progressively closer and stronger, you’re in labor. Other signs that labor is potentially imminent include:
Loss of your mucus plug. This is the thick plug of mucus that seals off the cervical opening from bacteria. As the cervix thins and shortens, the plug falls out. With this could come the “bloody show” where you’ll likely notice some blood on your toilet paper.
Trickling or gushing of amniotic fluid. If you think you just wet your pants, but the liquid is odorless, your water just broke. If you do notice a color or odor, call your health care provider immediately, as it could be a sign the baby is in distress and has passed merconium in the uterus.
If any of these signs of labor occur, call your health care professional to discuss at what point to come into the hospital.
10 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
- Eat five or six well-balanced meals each day.
- Take a prenatal vitamin each day as directed by your obstetrician or midwife.
- Drink plenty of fluids — at least eight to 10 glasses a day — avoiding caffeine and artificial coloring.
- Don’t drink alcohol.
- Don’t smoke or allow yourself to be exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Exercise — it’s important for your general health and also can help reduce stress. Take a pregnancy exercise class or walk at least fifteen to twenty minutes every day at a moderate pace. Walk in cool, shaded areas or indoors in order to prevent overheating.
- Get adequate sleep — at least eight hours a night. If you’re suffering from sleep disturbances, take naps during the day and see your physician for advice.
- Wear comfortable, nonrestricting shoes and put your feet up several times a day to prevent fatigue and swelling of the feet, legs, and ankles.
- Continue to wear a safety belt while riding in motor vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the shoulder portion of the restraint should be positioned over the collar bone. The lap portion should be placed under the abdomen as low as possible on the hips and across the upper thighs, never above the abdomen. Also, pregnant women should sit as far from the air bag as possible.
- Don’t take over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies without first consulting your obstetrician or midwife.
Sources: National Women’s Health Information Center; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your won health or the health of others.