So, you’ve decided to try to have a baby. Until this point, you’ve probably done everything you can to prevent pregnancy, which is why most of us don’t even know where to start.
After years of birth control, condoms, and the occasional trip to the drug store for Plan B, it’s time to forget everything you learned in health class and begin your journey to pregnancy.
The reality? Having unprotected sex doesn’t guarantee pregnancy. It actually takes the average woman six months to get pregnant.
However, there are steps you can take to make the process easier and less intimidating. We’re here to make your pregnancy journey as pleasant and convenient as possible.
Step 1: Talk it Out
Everyone’s path to pregnancy is different, but a very important first step is to express your thoughts to someone who can hold your hand through it.
If you have a partner, be sure to tell him or her that you’re ready to start trying. The most important thing is to make sure you’re both on the same page. We know it can be an intimidating conversation, so here are some tips to make it less scary.
If you’re flying solo, talk to your doctor about your options. This won't come as a surprise, but having a baby is a big decision. You’ll want to be sure you’re as informed as possible.
Step 2: Say Goodbye to Bad Habits
Nine months without alcohol? And minimal coffee? If you’re anything like us, these are scary thoughts. However, there are a few essential things you must give up before, during, and after conception to increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Let’s start with cigarettes. Tobacco is toxic to ovaries and sperm, which increases 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. So, you should work on quitting tobacco as soon as you start thinking about the possibility of getting pregnant. Regardless of how old you are, if you think you might want a baby one day, ghosting your smoking habit will be worth more than you know.
Obviously, 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 bad outcomes, such as miscarriage or various birth defects. So, start swapping that glass of wine before bed out for some chamomile tea. Try meditating after a long day rather than hitting the bar. You can do this.
Next, let’s talk about caffeine. First thing’s first, it’s perfectly healthy to drink coffee and tea while trying to conceive. But just like most things that we love, it’s all about moderation. Doctors have found a 200 mg of caffeine per day to be a healthy limit if you’re trying for a baby. This is about a cup and a half of coffee, depending on the concentration.
Limiting caffeine consumption while trying to get pregnant will help you out in the long run, as you should drink as little as possible when you are pregnant. Any amount of caffeine during pregnancy can increase the baby’s heart rate and cause dehydration. Your baby doesn’t quite yet need a morning caffeine boost, so do your best to cut back early.
Living an overall healthy lifestyle is the most important thing you can do before and during pregnancy. Once again, it’s all about balance. Too much of anything can be detrimental, whether it’s weight loss, weight gain, working out, or sleeping.
Practicing healthy habits like exercising, drinking enough water, eating your veggies, and getting enough sleep will be beneficial on your journey to pregnancy, but don’t go too extreme on anything you do. Excess weight gain or loss and pushing yourself too hard causes stress to your body and will only make it harder to support a baby.
Something we didn’t know is that poor oral hygiene can affect a man’s sperm count, so make sure your man is brushing and flossing.
Ultimately, pregnancy is the time to pick up the healthy habits that you’ve probably been putting off for years. There’s no time like the present.
Step 3: Take your Vitamins
It would be too easy if all it took to get pregnant was having sex and drinking less coffee. A girl can dream. Let’s dive deeper into preconception care and talk prenatal vitamins. What are they good for, and what’s all the hype about?
Prenatal vitamins are daily supplements that women can take before and during pregnancy that provide extra amounts of essential nutrients needed. Folic Acid is the most important vitamin to take when planning for pregnancy. A healthy level of Folic Acid is important for pregnancy, as it can reduce the chances of the baby having neural tube defects by 70%. Additionally, Iron supplements help support growth and development and prevents anemia. Your doctor will probably recommend a specific brand of vitamins, but good ones usually contain Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron, and Vitamin D. These can be bought over-the-counter at your drug stores and should be taken before and during pregnancy.
Step 4: Understand When You’re Most Fertile
If you’re ready to start actively trying to get pregnant, it’s vital to plan sex for optimal baby-making times.
While you've probably heard of ovulation before, you might not know what it means. Unless you've had a reason to track your fertility before, it's totally okay to not understand what this means. If you're wondering, "What is ovulation, anyway?"
Here's a simple way to explain it:
Ovulation occurs once every menstrual cycle when your body releases an egg. When the egg teams up with sperm, it can make a baby. You are most fertile (AKA most ripe for making a baby) during ovulation.
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.
We all know that menstrual cycles are not always clockwork, so you might wonder: how exactly am I supposed to know when I’m ovulating?
We’re here to make it simple, by listing three of our favorite menstrual cycle trackers and breaking down their differences.
Clue identifies unique patterns in menstrual cycles.This free app uses an algorithm to track your mood, health, and of course, period. The best part? It’s inclusive for all ages and doesn’t include any flowers, hearts, or other girly symbols that no one wants. Additionally, Clue can link up to any Apply watch (talk about convenience). “The more you use it, the smarter it gets”
Flo is another great option for tracking your period. This free, AI powered app predicts menstrual cycles, ovulation, and fertile days. Unlike other options, Flo takes into consideration things like PMS symptoms, mood, and sexual activity.
- Glow is the app for you if you’re actively trying to get pregnant. Glow uses your data to track your fertility cycle. What makes this app amazing is that it is not only for women but can also track men’s fertility cycles. Best of all, a man’s data can be linked to his partners to view fertility as a couple and help conceive faster.
Additionally, 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.
Now that you know all the main pre-reqs for pregnancy, you’re probably eager to get going. Most women, however, aren’t sure when they should experience the first signs of pregnancy, or how to know if they’re even pregnant. After loads of research, we created the definitive guide to pregnancy tests that answers questions about when to test and what your results mean. Use this as a resource for any questions you have along the way.
Step 6: Get Smart with Pregnancy Testing
Like we said, it takes the average woman six months to get pregnant. That’s a lot of trips to the drug store for overpriced and confusing pregnancy tests. Not to mention the possibility of running into someone you know and telling them you’re trying without even knowing it.
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.