When it comes to conceiving, a well planned preconception is an important first step! This will help to increase your chances at conception and to help reduce possible risks to you and your baby. Creating a pre-pregnancy plan is a great way to start things off, especially if you are a first time parent!
We have developed the following checklist to help make the process a little easier and boost your fertility in the process! This way you can make sure that you are working towards your optimal fertility health.
1. Take Folic Acid Daily
Before trying to conceive it is vital to take a folic acid supplement. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommend that all women of childbearing age take at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Folic acid is usually found within prenatal vitamins.
This supplement has been shown to help lower the risk of certain birth defects such as neural tube abnormalities like Spina Bifida. If you know that you are more at risk to have certain genetic mutations, you may want to up your folic acid intake to help reduce these health risks during pregnancy.
2. Develop a Consistent Fitness and Sleeping Routine
Having a routine of a moderate and regular exercise program is vital for both you and your developing baby’s health. Try finding a program that you can continue with during pregnancy. Begin slowly and work up to your routine at a gradual pace if fitness is new to you.
Set a goal to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day three- five days a week while you are trying to conceive. Yoga is a great exercise that can also help to boost your fertility! However, avoid bikram or “hot” yoga. You want to avoid being exposed to intense heat while trying to get pregnant.
If you are overweight, losing weight can help to improve your fertility. Obesity is associated with decreased fertility. Research shows that even a moderate amount of weight loss in obese women can help to improve your odds. This is especially the case if you are suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS.
In addition to consistent fitness, likewise be sure to have consistent recovery and sleep patterns to further promote healthy fertility, as sleep and proper circadian rhythm balance can ultimately impact your body’s hormone levels and cycle regularity.
3. Maintain a Well- Rounded and Nutritious Fertility Diet
Eating healthy foods is important for your overall health, but especially during pregnancy. It is important to develop a daily diet that is full of fruits, vegetables, and a variety of whole grains. You will want to lower or cut out fried foods all together, as well as fats.
Lean meats and poultry are a great source of protein while trying to conceive. Try to avoid eating certain types of fish, such as Swordfish, King Mackerel, and Tilefish, as they contain high levels of mercury. Mercury in high doses has been shown to reduce pregnancy rates.
Great snack options could include:
- Popcorn (without the butter)
- Raw vegetables
- Fresh fruit
4. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is crucial during preconception and pregnancy. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of fluids a day. When you do not consume enough water, your cervical mucus slows down. This is the fluid that helps sperm to find the egg. Drinking enough water also helps to stimulate circulation and to improve egg health.
This also means that you want to try to limit or cut out coffee, alcohol, tea, and soda. A simple way to determine your hydration level is by the color of your urine. If it a darker yellow you might need to be drinking more.
5. Be Aware of Previous Medical Conditions
It is helpful to be aware of any existing medical conditions that could potentially affect your pregnancy. It is best to lean towards the side of caution as nearly all existing health concerns could affect the health of your unborn baby.
Medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, seizure disorders, and depression should be noted. Discuss your medical conditions and medications with your physician before you get pregnant. Certain prescription medications can cause birth defects to an unborn baby, your doctor can help inform you on which ones to avoid during this time.
6. Know How to Identify Warning Signs of Infertility
Keep track of your menstrual cycle during the months before trying to conceive. This can help to let you know if you are experiencing irregular or absent periods, pelvic pain, or may be suffering from PCOS.
By tracking your body’s cycle you will be able to discuss this with your doctor if you do suspect infertility after months of trying unsuccessfully.
7. Consider the Timing of When You Want All of Your Children
Many women focus on when they would like their first child, but do not always think about how old they want to be when they have their last child. A good way to do this is to decide how many kids you want to have and then assume that there will be an average of 18 months in between your pregnancies.
Discuss your ideas with your OB/GYN and they can help to answer any questions you may have. This will be especially helpful if you find that you will be over the age of 35 while still trying to conceive.
8. Put Down the Cigarette
If you smoking cigarettes, one of the best things you can do to help boost your fertility is to quit smoking NOW. This is vital for the health of your future unborn baby during pregnancy. Smoking can make getting pregnant harder to occur. Studies show that it has an adverse effect on the body’s ability to produce high-quality eggs during ovulation.
Women who smoke are more likely to have a serious health problem occur during their pregnancy and childbirth. Problems that could occur are having a premature birth and your baby being underweight, which could cause even more medical problems throughout their lives. In addition to smoking, quitting alcohol and drug use can also play a major role in improving fertility.
9. Avoid Certain Household Substances
Being exposed to everyday substances that can be found within the workplace or the home could make it more difficult to conceive.
Substances to avoid are:
- Toxic chemical products such as pesticides, cleaners, paint thinners, and solvents
- Radiation/ X-rays
- Hazardous chemicals such as lead or mercury
To help minimize your exposure you can wear rubber gloves or work in a well-ventilated area if cleaning your home.
10. Give Yourself Plenty of Chances for Conception to Occur
What that means is… have a lot of sex. The myth of “saving up” a man’s sperm to increase the chances of conception is actually incorrect. Skipping sex for more than five days in a row can have a negative affect on sperm count. It is okay to take breaks for one to two days, as this does not have an affect on sperm density.
But having sex daily can help to greatly improve your chances at getting pregnant. If this seems daunting, every other day has shown to be equally effective.
In the End
Enjoy this preconception time and take care of your body. Implementing these ten suggestions can help to ensure that your body is in optimal fertility health and improve your chances at success!
If you are under the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive after one year of unprotected sex and have not been successful it may be time to consider getting help from a specialist. If you are 35 years or older, try to schedule a consultation after six months of unprotected sex. Women who are over the age of 40 can seek help as soon as they decide to try to conceive.