How to prepare for trying to conceive
So, you’ve decided you’re ready to have a baby. Congratulations! This is such a beautiful and exciting journey and Stix is here to support you every step of the way. Becoming a parent requires careful planning and preparation. We also know that it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But with the right information, resources, and guidance, trying to conceive doesn’t have to feel so complicated.
Talk to your partner
Everyone’s journey to pregnancy looks different but it’s so important to maintain clear communication with your partner as soon as you start to think about having a baby. You’ll have to make sure you are both ready to be parents, have the logistics of parenthood sorted out, and that you feel physically and mentally healthy. Being transparent and honest with both your partner and yourself is key to being a happy parent and a good partner.
If you don’t have a partner, there are still plenty of options that make it possible to have a baby. You’ll still have a lot of things to consider before getting started including your financial status as well as physical and mental health. Once you take these factors into consideration and decide you’re ready, talk to your doctor, and research your options to find which is a good fit for you.
Talk to your primary care provider
Let your primary care provider know as soon as you make the decision to try for a baby. If you are in a heterosexual relationship and have been trying to conceive for more than six months without success, your doctor may recommend you and your partner take fertility tests. For women, a fertility test might be a pap smear, a urine test, or a blood test and measures the level of LH and progesterone in your body. This helps you and your doctor understand your cycle and whether your body is producing mature eggs frequently. Your doctor will likely recommend a fertility test if you’re over 35, if you’ve been trying to conceive for six months or longer, or if you’ve had a miscarriage in the past.
If you are in a same-sex relationship and are considering having a baby, your primary care physician should be helpful in providing you with options and figuring out what will work best for you and your lifestyle. Some of the more common options are sperm donors, IVF, and IUI. These methods can also be used if you are trying to conceive without a partner. The route you choose depends on your financial status, physical and mental health, and personal preferences. Be open and honest with your primary care physician and do your research about your concerns and preferences before making your decision.
Start taking prenatal vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are supplements taken before and during pregnancy that provide your body with the nutrients and minerals that are needed to support pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body needs more folic acid and iron than usual, so taking prenatal vitamins daily will allow your body to better support a fetus.
You should start taking prenatal vitamins three months before you start trying to conceive. One study found that if you were undergoing fertility treatments and took a prenatal vitamin every day, you were twice as likely to get pregnant as those undergoing the same treatment without taking prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins also help protect against birth defects like spina bifida.
Consider genetic testing
Before getting pregnant, your doctor might suggest genetic testing for both you and your partner. This lets you learn more about your family health history and the chances of anything getting passed down to your baby. If your family has a history of birth defects, developmental disability, or a genetic disease, a genetic test will usually detect it and your doctor will provide insight moving forward. While not mandatory, genetic testing gives you time to address any concerns that might affect your baby.
Live a healthy lifestyle
Getting enough exercise and eating your veggies is important for your overall health on any given day, but especially when you’re trying to conceive. Just remember, it’s all about balance. Too much of anything can be detrimental, whether it’s weight loss, weight gain, working out, or sleeping.
Try to eliminate unnecessary stress and find ways to feel relaxed, as there is evidence linking lower stress levels to an increased chance of conception. Pay attention to what you are putting in your body, how much movement you’re getting, and your sleep schedule. Ultimately, pregnancy is the perfect time to pick up the healthy habits you’ve probably been putting off for years.
Get off birth control
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, it’s best to stop using birth control sooner rather than later. While birth control does not directly affect fertility, it can take anywhere from zero to six months for your body and menstrual cycle to return to normal once you stop taking birth control pills, which may delay your timeline for getting pregnant if you don’t plan for it.
Non-hormonal IUDs don’t stop your ovulation, so it won’t take as much time for your body to return to its normal state once it’s removed. Medical experts recommend getting your non-hormonal IUD removed one month before you start trying, as your cycle should continue after the removal.
With hormonal IUDs, it usually takes one to three months for your menstrual cycle to return to normal after it is removed. While you might not get your period with a hormonal IUD, you are still ovulating and therefore it is easier for your cycle to get back on track. No matter what form of birth control you’re using, it’s important to give your body time to adjust to life without it before you start trying to conceive.
Stop drinking and smoking
Tobacco is toxic to ovaries and sperm, which increases the chances of infertility. Smoking cigarettes can also lead to several health conditions for the baby including heart defects, premature placenta detachment, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). So, you should work on quitting tobacco as soon as you start thinking about the possibility of getting pregnant.
Alcohol is something you’ll have to give up when you decide to get pregnant. Unlike cigarettes, alcohol hasn’t been proven to affect your fertility. However, you should steer clear of drinking excessively when you’re actively trying to conceive. In other words, however much you did or didn’t drink in the past won’t affect your ability to get pregnant, but it’s good to be conscious of how much you’re drinking while you’re trying.
Once you’ve confirmed that you’re pregnant, however, it’s time to cut alcohol from your life altogether. Any alcohol consumed during pregnancy will go into your blood and through the umbilical cord, directly connecting you to your baby. This can lead to negative outcomes, such as miscarriage or various birth defects.
Get to know your cycle
Planning sex around your fertile window is the key to getting pregnant. Ovulation occurs once every menstrual cycle when your body releases an egg and is the time you are most fertile. When the mature egg meets sperm, it can make a baby. So, having sex within a day or so of ovulation (typically about 14 days after the first day of your last period) increases the chances of pregnancy because this is when a living egg is released from the ovaries.
Ovulation tests can be very helpful and easy in determining when you’re ovulating. Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) are at-home tests that measure the hormone LH in your urine. The test has a result window with two lines: the control line and the test line. The control line is just to let you know the kit is working, and the test line indicates whether you’re ovulating or not. If the test line is a similar color to the control line, it means your LH levels are high and you’re likely ovulating.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s best to try on days that your LH levels are highest (usually 36 hours before ovulation). A positive result on an ovulation test doesn’t always mean you’re ovulating, however, it might mean you will ovulate soon (within 12-24 hours). In a textbook ovulation cycle, ovulation occurs around day 14. We know our cycles are far from regular, but taking ovulation tests has made it easier to know what’s happening in our bodies each month.
Sign up for a Stix subscription
One last step to take when you’re trying to conceive is to sign up for a Stix subscription. We created a pregnancy test that cares about and speaks to what women deserve. The Stix subscription comes with two tests delivered to your door every 2, 4, 8, or 12 weeks at a reasonable price. Stix has discreet packaging with no indication of what’s inside to keep the experience as private as possible. Clearly, there are a lot of things you have to think about when trying to conceive. We don’t want buying pregnancy tests to be one of them.