I think we all take for granted the idea that we can start a family when the right time comes. I know that I never really considered the possibility that trying for a baby might not be so easy, and just always assumed that one day I would have a child.
And when the right time did come, as it turned out, we were one of the lucky couples who conceived pretty soon after we started trying – so soon in fact that it was a bit of a surprise! However, I’m under no illusion that getting pregnant is always so straightforward and there are certainly no guarantees when it comes to having any more children.
Out of all of our friends who have had children, or who are trying for a baby, at least half of them have had concerns about the amount of time it’s taken/is taking to conceive. A lot of them have had fertility tests and have received fertility treatment of some sort somewhere along their journey to start a family. Others have gone down the IVF route – thankfully with great success. I think on the whole fertility worries are a lot more common than many people realise and I’m sure it must be hard to stay positive when it seems that everyone around you has children or is getting pregnant.
But if you are trying for a baby – whether it be your first, or your fourth – there are many things to consider that may help to improve your chances. Here, Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director of CREATE Fertility shares her advice.
6 things to consider when trying for a baby
1. Get fertility fit
Exercise is a key factor in improving the quality of your overall health and increasing chances of conception. A study in Obstetrics & Gynaecology concluded that women who exercised daily for 30 minutes or more had a reduced risk of infertility due to ovulation disorders.
The single most important lifestyle factor for fertility is keeping your weight within the optimal BMI range of 20-24. Joining a local slimming group or seeing your doctor to start on a weight loss/weight gain regime are useful ways to start working towards an optimal weight.
2. Improve your diet
Aim for a baby-ready body with small changes to your diet which could increase your fertility. Here are five top tips to incorporate into your diet:
- Choose slow-release carbs (e.g. whole grains, fruit and veg) over fast-release carbohydrates (white bread/rice, cake)
- Top up your Omega-3 levels with plenty of fish or, if you are vegetarian, include mango, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp seed in your diet
- Avoid trans fats and refined sugars (found in processed and fast food)
- Eat organic and vegetarian where possible
- Opt for full-fat rather than low-fat dairy products to get the beneficial hormones attached to fat
3. Stop smoking and reduce your alcohol intake
The most damaging lifestyle factor, apart from being under or over weight, is smoking, so stub out that cigarette! Research shows that smoking can also be linked to early menopause in women and damaged sperm in men. It is also time to cut down on other vices, as it’s recommended that alcohol and caffeine consumption are reduced to maintain optimum fertility levels.
4. Consider your age
It is important to remember that fertility declines over time, so it is best not to leave it too late. The decline in fertility begins around the age of 32 and becomes more rapid at 35 until by age 40, fertility has halved. At 30 there is a 20% chance of falling pregnant naturally per cycle, this falls to 5% by age 40 and 1% at age 45.
5. Research your family’s medical history
Ask your mum about her age of menopause, as this will be highly relevant to you. If it occurred before 45 years old you should think about getting your egg reserve checked. The best tests are an ovarian follicle count (called antral follicle count or AFC), done by an ultrasound scan, and an AMH blood test, which taken together will give you the information you need.
Trying for a baby can be stressful, especially if it’s taking longer than expected. A healthy mind promotes a healthy body, so aim to de-stress and relax. Take part in activities which promote positive thinking, including:
- Doing light exercise
- Yoga or meditation
- Taking regular breaks
- Walks in the countryside
- Bubble baths
If you’re thinking about having a baby, then do start by thinking about these recommended steps before looking into having expensive treatments. For further clarification and a fertility diagnosis, a ‘one-stop fertility MOT’ can help to either offer reassurance of your fertility health or provide direction in what help your body may need in falling pregnant.
Are you trying for a baby? Did you conceive early on or did it take some time? Have you had fertility treatment?
Disclosure: Article written in collaboration with CREATE Fertility Clinic