Top 10 Tips When Trying For a Baby
Trying for a baby can be a time of excitement and anticipation, but for many couples, particularly as time goes on, it can also be a stressful waiting game which leaves people feeling powerless and frustrated. Many couples feel that it is beyond their control, but there are a number of simple measures you and your partner can take to proactively help your chances of conceiving.
1. Watch your weight
One of the most important things you can do to help your chance of conceiving is to ensure you are a healthy weight. Being underweight or overweight can impact the fertility of both men and women. In women, extra weight can affect the healthy development of eggs and can prevent a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb. Both you and your partner should aim to have a body mass index (BMI) of between 20 and 24.9.
2. Take folic acid
All women who are trying for a baby should take a folic acid supplement (400ug) every day. Women are advised to start taking folic acid for three to six months before they start trying for a baby, as well as for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid significantly reduces the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Folic acid is found in a number of foods such as leafy greens, pasta and beans, but the quantities in these will not amount to 400ug per day, so a supplement is always needed. There’s also evidence of a link between folic acid and male fertility: one study has shown that high levels of folic acid in men can lower their risk of sperm abnormalities.
3. Get to know your cycle
Understanding your menstrual cycle helps you know when you’re most fertile: the week you ovulate. It helps to become aware of the signs of ovulation, such as a change in cervical mucus. Ovulation prediction kits can help you predict the best time to get pregnant.
4. Get moving
We all know that regular exercise is good for us, but the benefits that regular exercise have on our general health and wellbeing are immeasurable. Exercise improves mood, boosts energy, controls weight, and helps protect against a myriad of health conditions and diseases. Regular exercise is also necessary for a healthy body and mind when trying to conceive. Thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise is recommended at least five times per week.
5. Look after the sperm!
When trying to conceive, the focus can often all be on women, but there is plenty men can do as well. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the most important thing a man can do to help his fertility, but there are also a number of small everyday things men can do (or not do) to help their sperm count and prevent sperm from overheating. Avoid hot tubs and jacuzzis, which can temporarily decrease sperm production. Holding a laptop on the lap can also affect sperm, as can tightly fitting briefs and bicycle shorts.
6. Don’t overindulge in alcohol
Alcohol has been linked to reduced ovulation in women. While trying to become pregnant, we recommend you don’t drink more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week, or indeed, avoid it altogether. Recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine should also be avoided pre-pregnancy.
7. You are what you eat
In a nutshell, you should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day; reduce intake of fizzy drinks, fast food, cakes and sweets; choose wholegrain carbohydrates; increase your intake of oily fish, and limit caffeine intake.
8. Stop smoking
Both men and women are strongly advised to stop smoking cigarettes when trying for a baby. The evidence is very clear: the rate of infertility is higher and the time it takes to become pregnant is longer in smokers than in non-smokers.
9. Do a preconception check up
Before you start trying, it’s no harm to get a preconception check up to ensure you are doing all you can to provide a healthy environment for conceiving.
10. Relax and de-stress!
It can be hard to just simply ‘relax’ on command at a stressful time, but it is true that stress can interfere with ovulation. Do what you can to help you de-stress, as long as it’s healthy. Some people find acupuncture and yoga help, while for others, a stroll or a swim might be of benefit. Do your best to switch off every now and then if you can. The more relaxed you are, the better!