Whether you’re just starting out on your trying to conceive journey, you’ve been trying for a while, or you’ve previously been successful in TTC, this post will prove to be a great resource to you.
The journey of trying to conceive can be chalked full of mixed emotions. It can be scary and heartbreaking at times, wonderful at others, and discouraging and frustrating as well. Many women feel discourage when it takes more than a few months to conceive, and many women start to worry when all they’ve seen is a negative.
Disclaimer: I am not a physician or health care provider; i am just someone who has a passion for women’s health, however all of the information in this post is backed up by research and data. I will be linking resources at the end if you feel you’d like additional information on anything.
I want to re-assure you that while fertility struggles are prevalent, a majority of women are healthy, and should be able to conceive naturally. However, i understand how frustrating and heartbreaking it can be to experience negative, after negative, or experience losses. If you have no reason to believe that you have fertility issues, then you should assume that you don’t. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t worry until you have a reason to.
Here are a few statistics to help ease your mind; and some information to help you out if you’re feeling lost. For a healthy woman, under the age of 35, without any gynecological/obstetric condition (PCOS, endometriosis, etc.) it can take up to 12 months to conceive. So if you’ve been trying for a few months and haven’t gotten your BFP, even though you feel that all of you’r friends got pregnant instantly, don’t be discouraged. If it’s been a year, and you have not conceived, it may be time for you to contact your health care provider. If you’re over the age of 35 health care providers usually say that after about 6 months of trying with no success, you should be seen.
Another statistic that i feel may be comforting is that 1 in every 3 pregnancies ends in miscarriage within the first trimester. While any loss is heartbreaking, if you’ve experienced an early loss of pregnancy, know that you’re not alone, and it is way more common than you’d think. If you have a miscarriage, your health care provider will likely want to see you, to ensure that the miscarriage is complete, and you’re healthy and ready to start trying again. If you’ve had multiple miscarriages in a row, it’s important to talk to your provider about why this may be happening, repeat early miscarriages can often be a sign of progesterone deficiency, if this is the problem, it’s likely an easy fix with a progesterone supplement.
And finally, if you truly believe that something may be wrong, you should of course contact your health care provider. You know your body better than anyone else and if you think there may be a problem you should talk with your doctor.
Here are the things that you should do if you’re trying to conceive:
1 – Educate Yourself about Trying to Conceive
The number one thing i would tell anyone on a TTC journey, or really anyone in general, is that knowledge is power. The more you understand your cycle, your body, and the science behind conception and pregnancy, the more peace you will feel within your journey, and the more you understand how conception works, the more likely you will be to conceive.
- Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler – i cannot recommend this book enough. I recommend this book to everyone and anyone who has a uterus or knows someone who has a uterus. This books is so well written, and filled with so much information.
- Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden – the is another great book filled with information about your cycle. It’s a great guide for coming off of hormonal birth control, detoxing from those hormones, and recognizing hormonal imbalances within your cycle, and how to fix those imbalances, naturally.
- The Fifth Vital Sign: Master Your Cycles & Optimize Your Fertility by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack – this is a book that i have not yet read, but is on my reading list. I’ve heard such great things about it, and it has so much great information as well.
2 – Chart Your Cycle
If you’ve heard about charting your cycle and aren’t doing it yet, i strongly encourage you to begin charting. Charting your cycle is the absolute best way to understand YOUR cycle, and how YOUR body works, it gives you so much insight into what your body is doing, and can be such a valuable tool in trying to conceive.
If you don’t know what charting is, its a method of tracking the symptoms your body gives you throughout your cycle, in order to understand what your hormones are doing, as well as pinpoint your ovulation by tracking your natural fertility signs. Most times, these signs that your body gives you, can tell you more than an ovulation predictor kit.
When charting your cycle, you track a few different fertility signs that seem to be relatively universal, but it’s customizable and allows you to track any other symptoms that you recognize in yourself. In charting your cycle, you track your cervical mucous, and your basal body temperature, and lots of people also track cervical position, However, cervical mucous and basal body temperature are the two most important, and provide you with the most information.
Throughout your cycle, your cervical mucous changes with your hormone production, around the time of ovulation, cervical mucous typically becomes abundant and has an egg-white stretchy quality, this cervical mucous not only indicates that ovulation is coming and can help time intercourse, but the actual presence of this type of cervical mucous is essential for conception, as it nourishes the sperm and helps it travel to the egg.
Your basal body temperature will only confirm that you have ovulated, which is why tracking your cervical mucous is important if you’re trying to predict ovulation. Your basal body temperature is your temperature at rest, and it will rise after you’ve ovulated. Once your temperature rises, ovulation has already occured and your fertile window is likely already closed, however it’s great reassurance that you are understanding your body’s other fertility signs, and it’s also great reassurance that you are actually ovulation.
We are taught in school that a woman’s cycle is 28 days with ovulation on day 14, but for most women that’s just not the case, and for many women the day of ovulation varies from cycle to cycle because it can be effected by many different external factors. This is why it’s so important to be charting your cycle if you’re trying to conceive, it gives so much information about your body that you could never gather from a book or an article.
The best way to learn how to chart your cycle is by reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility. This is the book that i originally learned it from, and it gives you tons of different examples. You can also download the charts directly from their site and chart on them.
If you’re interested in learning more about charting, or women’s cycles’ in general, stay tuned for my next blog post!
3 – Get Yourself on a Prenatal BEFORE Trying to Conceive
If you’re planning on getting pregnant within the next year, you should start taking a prenatal. Most doctors will recommend that all women of childbearing age should be taking a prenatal vitamin as a multivitamin. Otherwise, lots of health care providers will recommend starting a prenatal a minimum of 3 months before planning to conceive. This is because the folate in prenatal vitamins is important for preventing neural tube defects in the baby, the neural tube develops within the first month of pregnancy, which is often before many woman even know they’re pregnant. Being on a prenatal has so many benefits, even if you aren’t pregnant, that i’d recommend it to anyone of childbearing age, regardless of whether or not they’re trying to conceive.
But which prenatal should you be taking? There are TONS of prenatal’s on the market, and many of them have very few differences, while some of them have drastic differences. The most important things in a prenatal are folate (the natural form) or folic acid (the synthetic form), and i highly recommend one with DHA, which is essentially fish oil, this is super important for the health and development of both mom and baby. Lots of prenatal’s don’t come with DHA, but i’d recommend finding one that does or adding a fish oil supplement to your prenatal54. I have yet to find a prenatal vitamin that contains DHA and has EVERYTHING the CDC recommends all in one pill.
The best one that i’ve found, and the one that i personally take is the Nature Made Prenatal + DHA, this one contains everything except enough calcium, so i also take a calcium supplement that is fortified with vitamin D (i live in the midwest and we’re all vitamin D deficient here). Another benefit to this prenatal is that it’s one pill, once a day, and it’s budget friendly.
4 – Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!
This is something that everyone will tell you is a fix for everything, and that’s because it’s true. It’s so important to stay hydrated while trying to conceive and throughout pregnancy. In terms of conception, hydration is so important for the good quality cervical fluid that’s necessary to nourish sperm. It also plays a large role in flushing out toxins that may cause hormonal imbalances, effecting your fertility.
It’s also super important to stay hydrated during that two week wait, because the uterus does not like dehydration, just like your muscles ache when you’re dehydrated, your uterus is a muscle and dehydration can cause it to contract, especially as you’re farther into the luteal phase (the time period after ovulation) which can prevent a fertilized egg from properly implanting. To keep in mind with this though, is that the uterus can also contract when the bladder is full, because the uterus sits over the bladder, a full bladder can put pressure on the uterus and cause it to contract which can again, prevent implantation. This means you should be sure that you can use the bathroom as much as you need.
This idea of dehydration / and a full bladder should be taken with a grain of salt however, it is not the end-all-be-all of conception, but it should be a thought in the back of your mind.
5 – Schedule a pre-conception check-up
A lot of people don’t know that this is even a thing! But it can be so crucial to ensuring healthy conception, and a healthy pregnancy. Most doctors, midwives, and other health care providers want to see you before you start trying to conceive. In this visit, a your provider will typically do a general check-up, they may draw some blood work to check certain levels of hormones and lab values to ensure your body is in tip-top shape. If you’re on birth control they will discuss with you the best way to come off of it for they type you’re on and your body. If you’ve recently come off birth control, they may talk to you about how the transition has been going. If you’ve had previous fertility issues or any other issues that may effect your fertility they can discuss with you how to best navigate that. They will likely also discuss with you obstetric care, if they provide care and you plan to go to them they should be able to answer any questions you may have, and if they don’t provide obstetric care they should be able to refer you to someone who does.
Overall, while not having a pre-conception visit wont be detrimental, having one can provide with the tools and confidence you need to ensure you’re healthy and ready to start trying to conceive, as well as answer any questions that may be bothering you.