10 Top Tips For Getting Pregnant, How to Maximise Your Chances of Having a Baby?

LifeStyle - Once you've decided you want a baby, the last thing you want to do is wait! It's not an exact science but there are certain things you can do to maximise your chances of getting pregnant.

We've spoken to the experts and come up with some top tips:

1. Have s3x - The most important tip!

If you have regular, unprotected s3x for a year, about 84% of couples will get pregnant.

The expert advice from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, is to have s3x every two to three days throughout the month. The guidelines say you don't need to time s3x to coincide with the days when a woman in ovulating.

Leading fertility expert Zita West agrees: "As the fertile time varies, you can't accurately pinpoint the best time, so just have s3x three times a week throughout the month."
"Prioritise s3x - make time for it in the proper sense, as in 'make it important and don't just diary it in as another thing to do'," says Emma Cannon, author of The Baby Making Bible.

She says: "Have s3x throughout the month and don't rely on ovulation sticks to determine your s3x life - they are a real passion killer."

2. Know your cycle
Even though the advice is regular s3x throughout the month, it's important to know your cycle.

Going back to basics here, you only get a baby when a sperm meets an egg and that egg only comes usually once a month, around day 14 in your cycle.

The egg only survives for a day or two, so there's only a limited window each month during which you can actually get pregnant. It's probably around six days.

You are likely to have better quality sperm if you have s3x regularly, so continue to do so throughout the month, but realise that the most fertile time is around the time of ovulation.

During ovulation some women feel a twinge of pain in one side and cervical mucus may become thin and slippery.

If you have an irregular cycle or feel you need extra help, you can buy ovulation prediction kits to help you find out when you are most fertile.

It can be an obsession with some couples to have to have s3x at a certain time and this can put a lot of pressure on couples. However, it can take the fun out of s3x and make some men less likely to perform.

Zita West says: "Women have often been on the pill for 10 to 15 years so don't know what their true cycle is, so it's important to familiarise themselves with it."
"Knowing your cycle is really important but there is knowing and then there is obsessing," according to Emma. "So make sure you keep it in balance and try to develop a 'mindfulness' about your cycle rather than a fixed obsession," she advises.

3. Folic acid and a check up

Women who are thinking about getting pregnant should take a 400mcg folic acid supplement each day. Some women are advised to take a 5mg folic acid supplement each day; for example, those with coeliac disease or diabetes.

If you take folic acid when you are trying for a baby (ideally for at least three months before conceiving) and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy it reduces the risk of having a baby with conditions such as spina bifida.

It's also good to have a pre- conception check up with your GP. They will make  sure you are immunised against rubella (also known as German measles) as the infection can harm unborn babies. You can be vaccinated before you try to get pregnant.

If you are on any medications your GP will check that they are appropriate during pregnancy. For example, some acne treatments are unsuitable.

4. De-stress
Zita says psychological preparations for getting pregnant are vital.

"Couples lead busy lives, climbing the career ladder, with lots of things going on in their lives. Making a baby can be an added stress."

Sometimes couples go down the IVF route when they could make lifestyle changes instead.

Zita says relaxation CDs and hypnotherapy may help. Exercise is a good way to get rid of stress, especially less vigorous forms like yoga and Pilates. Acupuncture may help for some women.

"Take care of your emotions, manage your stress levels and take time out to relax and switch off," says Emma.

5. Give up smoking

We all know by now that smoking is bad for our health generally, but it may reduce fertility as well.

The current advice from LifeStyle is that smoking or even passive smoking may affect a woman's chances of getting pregnant. For men, a link has been found between sm0king and poorer quality sperm.

6. Be a healthy weight

If you are in a healthy weight range you have a body mass index ( BMI) of between 18.5 - 24.9. NICE says women who have a BMI of more than 29 can take longer to conceive than women whose weight is in the normal range.

"Excess weight is associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome, resulting in a hormone imbalance which can affect fertility and may cause miscarriages," according to Jackie.

"Live a healthy lifestyle," says Emma, " Exercise but do not exercise too much, and make sure you have a healthy BMI - not too high or too low”.

"Being underweight is just as bad for fertility as being overweight."

7. Cut alcohol
The UK's chief medical officers say there is no safe amount of alcohol that women can drink during pregnancy, and it makes sense to stop drinking while trying to conceive too.


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