When you decide you want to have a baby, often any amount of waiting feels like too long. Women in their twenties have approximately a 20-25 percent chance of getting pregnant each cycle. Once you turn thirty, this number drops to about 15 percent and at 35 declines even more drastically to a less than 10 percent chance. Fortunately, there are natural ways and simple changes to your lifestyle that can increase your odds of conceiving and ensure that your body is primed for baby. Here are 15 natural ways to increase your odds of getting pregnant.
1) Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in protein, vitamins C and D, iron and zinc help can help keep your menstrual cycle consistent and consequently keep you ovulating regularly. Consider taking a prenatal vitamin even before you conceive as many of baby’s most vital organs begin developing in the first weeks of pregnancy.
2) Maintain a healthy body weight: Having too little body fat prohibits the body from producing enough hormones necessary for ovulation and to sustain a pregnancy. Having too much body fat can also interfere with ovulation by causing excess production of hormones and consequently less frequent ovulation. A normal BMI ranges between 18.5 and 24.9.
3) Get to know your cycle: Having an understanding of your monthly menstrual cycle and knowing how long it typically lasts can help you determine which days are your most fertile. A normal cycle can range from 21-35 days and although the average time for ovulation is day 14, it can happen as early as day 6 or as late as day 21. You can predict your ovulation more accurately by charting your basal body temperature or using an ovulation prediction kit. There are great apps that allow you to take control of your reproductive health. Track your sexual health and period cycles, pinpoint your ovulation day and maximize your chance for pregnancy.
4) Cut back on alcohol: Regular alcohol consumption may alter your estrogen levels which can ultimately interfere with the implantation process. If you are trying to conceive, it is a good time to start practicing the healthy lifestyle habits you will need to adopt once you become pregnant.
5) Quit smoking: Wanting to get pregnant is just one of the many reasons you should quit smoking now. Cigarette toxins can damage your eggs, cause premature aging of your ovaries and interfere with the implantation process. Although smoking can cause permanent damage to your fertility, you will recover some of your ovarian function upon quitting.
6) Get enough rest: Try to get a full 7-8 hours of sleep per night if you are trying to conceive. Sleep is associated with the production of the hormone Leptin which is necessary for ovulation to occur. Sleep also affects the production of fertility hormones such as estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH), progesterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
7) Have sex: Having sex every 1-2 days during your fertile period can significantly increase your chances of getting pregnant. Some research suggests that women who have intercourse regularly are more likely to have consistent menstrual cycles making it easier for them to identify their most fertile days. Weekly sex is also associated with higher levels of estrogen production.
8) Curb your caffeine intake: Excess caffeine may also interfere with fertility hormones and make it more difficult for you to conceive. Start limiting your intake to 200 milligrams daily or 1 to 2 caffeinated beverages.
9) Keep up on your dental health: Brush twice daily, floss before bed and stay current on your dental check-ups. Gum disease has been shown to add an extra two months to the amount of time it takes to get pregnant. It’s best to see your dentist and get any necessary work completed before you start trying to conceive.
10) Protect yourself from workplace hazards: If you work in a setting where you are exposed to radiation, industrial chemicals, nitrous oxide or jet fuel, take precautions to wear all the necessary protective gear to shield your body from these harmful agents. Exposure to toxins like these has been shown to decrease fertility and interfere with a woman’s regular menstrual cycle.
11) Avoid contact with pesticides and herbicides: Similarly, chemicals used to kill insects and weeds can also be detrimental to fertility by disrupting ovarian function and interfering with a woman’s monthly cycle. Be sure to wash fruit and vegetables carefully before eating and consider choosing organic options to avoid exposure to residue from these chemicals.
12) Exercise moderately: While it’s a good idea to make sure you are getting regular exercise, if you are trying to conceive don’t push yourself too hard. A research study found that women who engage in five or more hours of vigorous exercise per week were 42 percent less likely to get pregnant than women who did not exercise at all. This is because intense exercise can negatively impact ovulation thus disrupting a woman’s natural cycle.
13) Choose lubrication wisely: Using lubrication during intercourse can actually interfere with the process of the sperm reaching the egg. Even natural lubricants like saliva can have a negative impact on your chances of conception. Safer choices include mineral oils, canola oil, vegetable oil and Preseed, a lubricant specially designed for trying to conceive.
14) Reduce your stress level: Reducing your stress level and eliminating unnecessary obligations from your plate can have a positive impact on your fertility. Stress may cause changes to your body’s hormone production making your menstrual cycle unpredictable and consequently making it harder to conceive.
15) Don’t underestimate the importance of your partner’s role: Just like women, men who are trying to conceive should also focus on getting healthy. Being a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking and taking daily vitamins are all ways that your partner can help ensure his sperm are healthy and ready to fertilize your egg.
Specifically, vitamins E & C and the mineral selenium are thought to improve sperm quality and can be taken in addition to a daily multivitamin. Trying to conceive can be an enjoyable and a stressful time period all in one. Make sure to take the necessary steps to take care of your own health so that your body will be ready to provide a temporary home for baby. If you have questions about getting pregnant or are interested in learning more about having a natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our beautiful Birth Center.