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So you’re ready to get pregnant – Congrats!!
Pregnancy is such an exciting time. Feeling those tiny kicks and swirls inside, all while wondering what life will be like when he or she arrives.
But before all that happens, you actually have to get pregnant.
Sounds pretty simple. Have sex. Get pregnant.
I’m pretty sure it’s ingrained in our brain from high school that is you have sex, you will get pregnant.
But when the time comes, and you actually want to get pregnant, things can be a little more complicated than scheduling some late night nooky.
Because this guide is JAM PACKED with everything you’ll need on getting pregnant, here’s a table of contents:
Table of Contents
Part I: Preparing for Pregnancy
First up, you want to prepare yourself for pregnancy. Here’s a list of things you’ll want to check off prior to having a bun in the oven.
1. Start taking prenatal vitamins
You’ll want to start taking prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant. Taking them before getting pregnant will help build up the necessary vitamins in your system to support a healthy pregnancy.
One of the most important vitamins in your prenatal is folic acid. This is essential to the first weeks of pregnancy when your baby will be developing its neural tube and spine.
Folic acid helps prevent miscarriage, neural tube defects, and other birth defects such as spina bifida.
Neural tube defects typically development within the first 28 days of pregnancy, before you may even know you are pregnant.
It is essential to get this step started as soon as you decide you’re ready to have a baby.
Plus, taking a vitamin is important anyway – prenatals just have a few extras in them that are more necessary to your baby than you.
You can even continue taking them after the baby is born so don’t toss any leftovers!
Here’s a great article from WebMD on what to look for in a prenatal.
2. Increase your water intake
Water will be essential during your entire pregnancy. But starting early will help establish a better routine as well as help with conception.
Water helps with your cervical mucus, making it more travel-friendly for the sperm (more on that later).
Drinking water will also help ensure your uterus is healthy and able to support a fertilized egg.
Find pretty reusable bottles to help encourage you to drink. There are also a ton of apps you can download on your phone to set water reminders.
3. Start a light exercise routine
If you are already exercising – keep going! Although, if you do strenuous workouts, try to scale back a bit.
But if you currently aren’t exercising, start a routine now.
Exercise can also help boost fertility. It helps regulate your cycle and increase your chances of ovulation each cycle.
Start exercising to prepare your body with both getting pregnant and ease aches and pains as you grow during pregnancy.
Some great exercise routines if you are just starting out can be things like yoga, walking, light weight-lifting, swimming, or other light aerobics.
An important rule of thumb when exercising during pregnancy, if you can hold a conversation without being winded, then your OK.
You don’t want to overexert (even if you’re used to it) as it can limit the amount of blood flow to the baby.
If you have any questions on what is safe to do during pregnancy, and are unsure where to start, consult your OB at your preconception visit.
4. Get some sleep
On average, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. Try to hit that window nightly to help keep your cycle on track.
This goes for both you and your partner – sleep helps regulate hormones for both sexes.
Plus, once your little bundle arrives, sleep will be much harder to come by so enjoy it while you still can!
5. Track your cycle
Now is a great time to start tracking your cycle if you aren’t already.
Do you know when your last period was? How long your typical cycle is? Do you track things like mood, cervical mucus, cramps, etc. each month?
All these things will help you determine when you ovulate.
There are a ton of apps out there to help track your cycle. My top favorites are:
- Ovia Fertility
- Once you are pregnant, you can switch to the Ovia Pregnancy app. After birth, they also have an Ovia Parenting app.
- This is a great app. If you use OPKs (ovulation prediction kits), you can store a photo of each test in the app. They also help track your BBT (Basal Body Temperature) and put it all in a nice graph form. They also have a Facebook group you can access right in the app.
- This app is a bit more basic, but it still tracks your cycle. You can upgrade to a pro version, but the free version works just fine. My favorite part of this app is their Cycle History page. It gives you a screenshot of all your tracked cycles in an easy to view layout. It’s a quick view of how long each cycle is and when you ovulated each month. This is a great feature if you have irregular cycles.
The best part of the apps listed above, they are all free! Just make sure you track the best you can to get the most accurate information. The app will adjust and learn your cycles as you input more information.
6. Quit smoking
Smoking is terrible for you. As if you don’t already know this.
But if you plan to become pregnant, you are no longer just caring for yourself.
Now is the perfect time to ditch the dirty habit.
Smoking is linked to infertility, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus), erectile dysfunction, and other pregnancy-related issues.
I don’t think I need to elaborate any further – just quit!
If you need help quitting, check out How to Quit Smoking from the CDC.
7. Order some supplies
Once you are ready to actually start trying to get pregnant, you’ll want some of the following things on hand. They will be further explained later on.
- Ovulation Prediction Kits (OPKs)
- Unless you know exactly when you ovulate for sure each month, you’ll want to use OPKs to help narrow down your fertile window.
- Pregnancy tests
- This is worth mentioning because if you order ahead, you can find better prices. My advice – by the cheap ones they use in your doctor’s office. Most OPKs come with a set of pregnancy tests included. Try to avoid using the expensive ones until you’ve received a faint line on a cheap test. Use the First Response Early Result (FRER) to confirm. Price difference: cheapie $7 for 20 tests vs. $12-$13 for 3 FRER tests.
- Preseed or other sperm friendly lube
- If you use lube, you’ll need to switch to a sperm friendly lube.
- Basal Body Thermometer
- A basal body thermometer is different than a normal thermometer. It measures your temperature to the 100th degree (ie. 98.62)
- Prenatal vitamins
- I know I already mentioned it, but it’s worth mentioning again. Go order them!
8. Visit your gyno
Now is a great time to go visit your gynecologist.
Ask any questions you may have about becoming pregnant. Discuss coming off birth control or removing birth control.
Discuss any concerns about exercise, family history, previous medical history, etc. This is the time to be open and honest with your doctor. Don’t lie about your past – it’s better to voice any concerns up front.
Make sure you get a clean bill of health and then it’s off to baby making!
9. Visit the dentist
Visiting the dentist is another great idea before becoming pregnant.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had X-Rays, you’ll want to get those done now. Once you are pregnant, you’ll have to wait until after you give birth.
Also, the hormones from pregnancy can actually affect how your body responds to plaque. It’s very common that your gums will bleed when brushing your teeth during pregnancy.
So now is the perfect time to get a fresh cleaning and clear up any issues.
10. Stress less
If you have a lot of stress in your life whether it’s family drama or your job, now is the time to re-evaluate how you handle stress.
Stress can play a big part in your fertility. Try not to stress about getting pregnant. It’s supposed to be an exciting time, so don’t let it get to you.
Stress can throw your hormones out of balance and make getting pregnant harder.
Find ways to lower stress such as yoga or meditation, going for a walk or seek professional help.
11. Have sex
This step is more prepping your partner’s body than your own.
Having sex every 2-3 days encourages sperm health. It allows any dead sperm to move out and allow room for new sperm to be created.
This will be just as important once you actually start trying to get pregnant.
Sex has also been linked to regulating your cycle and encouraging your body to ovulate regularly.
Part II: How to Get Pregnant Faster
So you’ve followed part I of the guide to getting pregnant, and now it’s time to get down to business!
You’re taking your prenatals, you’ve got your OPKS, you’re rested and stress free.
So now you are ready to officially start trying.
How long can it take to get pregnant?
So a lot factors into how long it will take each individual couple to get pregnant.
On average, a healthy couple has a 20-30% chance of conception each cycle.
So on the flip side, that means there’s a 70-80% chance you won’t conceive.
With all the tips I am about to lay out for you, it will help speed up the process. But if it doesn’t happen in the first month, or even the third, don’t worry.
For healthy couples, it can take up to 12 months to conceive. But let’s focus on how to maximize each cycle!
How to get pregnant faster
Here is a list of tips to help you get pregnant faster.
1. Track Ovulation
So you have been tracking your cycle for a while, and maybe know about the time you ovulate but aren’t 100% sure.
Did you know less than 10% of women ovulate on day 14?
Most women ovulate between days 11 and 21 of their cycle. And it can vary from cycle to cycle.
For example, prior to the birth of my first child, I ovulated on CD 9, and then CD 18 the following month. This time around, I fluctuate from day 17 to day 23 depending on the month.
That is why it’s so important to track because you may be someone like me, whose ovulation fluctuates.
If you want to increase your chances of getting pregnant, you’ll want to really pinpoint your ovulation in order to have sex at the right time.
Here are three ways to track your ovulation.
- Ovulation Prediction Kits (OPKs)
- OPKs are used to detect the Luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine to detect if your body is about to release an egg (ovulate).
- You’ll need to pee into a small cup, and then dip the LH strips in your urine for the time described in the instructions.
- The test line should be as dark or darker than the control line to be a positive or a peak.
- If you are really unsure about your ovulation, start using these around cycle day (CD) 8. Test daily until you start to get a darkening line, then test twice a day until you reach your peak.
- When you receive a peak, make sure you have sex that day, the next day and the following day (3 days in a row).
- Once you get the peak, you will ovulate within 12-36 hours.
- For even more on OPKs, check out this post.
Side Note: I recommend continuing to test daily until aunt flow shows up, or you get a positive pregnancy test. (At least for the first month or two.)
The reason: OPKs don’t guarantee that you actually ovulated. Sometimes your body will release LH, but then fail to actually release an egg.
By continuing to test, if your body does fail the first time, it may attempt again, and you would receive another peak.
If you get another peak, repeat the process above.
- Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
- You’ll want to track your BBT every day of your cycle.
- Take your temperature at the same time every morning – before you even step foot out of bed (so keep it on your nightstand).
- Use a proper BBT thermometer that tracks to the 100th degree.
- Combining OPKs and BBT, it will confirm that you actually ovulated. If you receive a peak OPK, and then your temperature rises for three consecutive days, then it confirms you, in fact, did ovulate. (Sometimes our bodies attempt to ovulate, and then for whatever reason, the egg doesn’t actually release. If you simply use OPKs, you would have no way to know this happened, where BBT confirms).
- Continue tracking your BBT until your period or you get a positive pregnancy test.
- If your temperature starts to drop around the time of your expected period, then aunt flow will most likely appear as expected.
- If your temperature remains high, then chances are you are pregnant!
- Cervical Mucus (CM)
- Tracking your cervical mucus, or CM, during your cycle will help you understand what is going on in your body.
- Your typical cycle of CM will be dry during and immediately following your period, then it will become sticky, as you get closer to ovulation it will become creamy, and then once you are ovulating it will resemble egg whites. It will be stretchy, slippery, wet and clear in appearance. You will commonly hear people refer to it as egg white cervical mucus, or EWCM when trying to conceive.
- EWCM is your most fertile CM, so take that as a sign of your fertile window and get busy!
If you use all three of these methods, you should have no trouble tracking and determining your fertile window and ovulation day.
If you aren’t getting a peak OPK or spike in temperature, or don’t see changes in your CM, contact your doctor. You may not be ovulating and need to be evaluated to find out what’s going on.
2. Sperm Meets Egg Plan (SMEP)
The Sperm Meets Egg Plan helps increase your odds of getting pregnant. Many couples report success within the first month of using this method.
In addition to the steps above, using the SMEP method will ensure the most chances of, well, the sperm meeting the egg, at ovulation.
How it works:
- Starting on cycle day 8, have sex every other day.
- Starting on cycle day 10, start testing with OPKs (or earlier if you wish).
- Once you receive a positive or peak OPK, have sex that day, the next day and the following day (3 days in a row), skip a day, then have sex again.
- Take a pregnancy test fifteen days after you received your positive OPK.
- If you never get a positive or peak OPK, have sex every other day from CD 8-35.
Starting early in your cycle with having sex will ensure healthly, replenished sperm for your partner and the greatest chance to have a sperm waiting when the egg drops during ovulation.
Back in the OPK section, I mentioned that ovulation occurs in 12-36 hours from a positive/peak LH. That’s a pretty big window and can even go up to 48 hours. 12 hours is a really small window, so make sure you maximize this time.
The egg only lives for about 12-24 hours after it is released. Sperm can live up to 5 days inside a woman, waiting for the egg to release.
That’s why this method is so popular because it maximizes your chances of conception.
3. Use PreSeed
First, what is Preseed? It’s a fertility-friendly lubricant.
If you usually use a lubricant during intercourse, you’ll want to avoid them during your fertile window.
So what makes PreSeed different?
Well, normal lubricant either contains a spermicide, which kills sperm, or is not sperm friendly.
Obviously we don’t want to kill sperm if we are trying to get pregnant! And we don’t want to slow them down either.
Lubricant is very thick and sticky.
When we are fertile, are body produces cervical mucus as we discussed previously that resembles egg whites.
It’s smooth, watery and gooey to help guide the sperm into the cervix and on its way to find our egg.
PreSeed is designed to mimic that egg white cervical mucus.
HOWEVER, it is important to follow the directions for it to work properly.
If you use lubricant because you don’t produce much CM yourself, then following the instructions is even more imperative to its success.
When you use PreSeed, you are to insert it into your vagina using the provided applicator and allow it to warm up to your body temperature prior to having sex.
This will allow the lube to thin out and work as your own cervical mucus would.
4. Have Sex Often
Even if your not in your fertile window – don’t wait!
Having sex every 2-3 days ensures that your partners sperm is regenerating and clearing out any dead sperm.
That way, by the time you are in your fertile window, you have a higher percentage of happy healthy sperm to compete for the egg!
Plus, research shows that having sex often helps keep your own hormones in check and increases your chances of ovulation and maintaining regularity in your cycle.
You’ll also want to enjoy this time if this is your first baby. Frequent, uninterrupted alone time will be of short supply once your bundle of joy arrives!
So there’s a list of ways to increase your chances of conception each cycle. If possible, use them all.
It may seem like a lot, but if you are hoping to get pregnant quickly, the best way to do so is by knowing your body and your cycle.
What Affects Fertility?
This is a great question. While everybody is different, there are lots of things that play a role in your chance to conceive.
And this goes for both men and women. So share what you know with your partner.
Now is the time to make changes together that will help keep everyone happy and healthy.
Age plays a large role in our bodies ability to conceive. In this case, this affects women more than men.
Between the ages of:
- 20-24, your chance of conception is about 85%.
- 25-29 your chance of conception is about 75-80%
- 30-34 your chance of conception is around 60%
- 35-39 your chance of conception is approximately 50%
- 40-44 your chance of conception is around 30-35%
- 45+ your chance of conception is about 5%
As women age, the amount of viable eggs left in your system start decreasing dramatically.
It’s not to say you won’t get pregnant, but if you are over the age of 35, and you are not pregnant after 6 months of trying, consult your doctor.
For women under the age of 35, and you aren’t pregnant within 12 months, consult with your doctor.
2. The regularity of your cycle
Tracking your cycle is imperative to increasing your chances of getting pregnant.
If your cycle is irregular, you may or may not be ovulating on a monthly basis.
Or your ovulation may change from month to month.
This is why tracking ovulation using the methods from above is important in pinpointing your own specific ovulation and fertile window.
3. Sperm count and quality in men
The normal range of sperm can be anywhere between 15 million-200 million sperm per mL.
That seems like a lot when you only need one of those swimmers to make it to the egg!
Not only do you want to be in the healthy range of sperm count, but you also want it to have good motility, or movement of those little swimmers.
Increased volume and motility help increase the odds of conception.
If you are worried about sperm count, you can have a sperm analysis done. You can either visit your doctor, a fertility clinic or use an at-home kit.
If you do have low sperm count, here’s a great article on ways to increase your count.
4. Being over or underweight
If you are either under or overweight, it can impact your fertility.
Being underweight can cause a hormonal imbalance, throwing off your cycle and ovulation.
If you are overweight, you have a higher risk of having PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and can affect the quality of your eggs.
Same goes for your partner – being overweight can affect the quality of sperm as well.
If you are underweight, consider gaining some weight prior to trying to conceive, to reach a healthy BMI (body mass index) of 18.5-24.9.
If you are overweight, experts suggest losing some weight prior to trying for a baby to increase your chances of conception.
A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight, and anything over 30 is considered obese.
If you’d like to find out your BMI and whether it’s in a healthy range, here is a great calculator from the CDC.
5. Hormone imbalance
Hormonal imbalances can be in your estrogen, insulin, cortisol and adrenaline.
With these imbalances, can cause fertility issues for you.
Things like meditation, exercise, getting the proper vitamins, and changing your diet can help balance out your hormones.
6. Certain medication
Obviously birth control will affect your fertility when you are taking it.
You’ll want to discuss your specific kind with your OB and how long they recommend being off of it before trying to conceive.
Things like an IUD, you can typically begin trying as soon as it’s removed.
Other kinds of birth control will recommend three or four cycles of regular menstruation prior to trying to conceive.
Other medications that can affect your fertility are:
- Some herbal remedies
- Psychiatric medication
- Certain skin products
- Thyroid medication
If you have any concerns about any types of medication you are taking, consult your doctor to discuss the impact.
7. Fallopian tube disease
Also known as tubal disease, is a disorder where the fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged.
When your fallopian tube(s) are blocked or damaged, it prevents the egg, or even fertilized embryo, from moving down the tube and to your uterus.
It can be surgically treated by removing scar tissue. But if your tubes are too damaged, your other option is IVF and bypass the tubes altogether.
Endometriosis is when tissue grows outside the uterus or other areas such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes.
This tissue growth makes pregnancy more difficult, but not impossible.
Some common symptoms of endometriosis are pain, bleeding or spotting in between periods, and digestive problems.
PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a hormonal disorder that causes cysts to grow on enlarged ovaries.
Common symptoms include: irregular periods, really heavy or really light periods, no period at all, weight gain, acne, loss of hair or unwanted hair.
Because of the irregularity in your cycle with PCOS, and cysts affecting the release of an egg during ovulation, getting pregnant can be difficult.
It’s super important to get yourself tested prior to getting pregnant.
Did you know that chlamydia and gonorrhea can have no symptoms?
If you do have an STD and it goes untreated, the infection can spread and damage your fallopian tubes, uterus and other surrounding reproductive parts, causing infertility.
Smoking affects both men and women when it comes to fertility.
The chemicals in cigarettes decreases your egg supply faster. And once an egg is gone, that’s it. Women are born with however many eggs they will have in their lifetime.
For men, smoking can affect sperm count, quality, motility, and even cause abnormal shaped sperm.
The infertility rate for a smoker is twice that of a non-smoker.
Smoking also increases your chance of miscarriage and birth defects.
SO QUIT! ASAP!
Many things can impact your chances of conceiving for both men and women.
If any of these things are a concern, discuss it with your doctor when you go for your preconception appointment.
When it comes to baby making and getting pregnant, there are a million questions people always ask.
Here’s a list of the most frequently asked questions that I see in TTC (trying to conceive) groups.
Some people may swear that position matters, but it really doesn’t.
The speed and distance the sperm move after ejaculation will move it where it needs to go. Enjoy what feels best for you and your partner, and not worry about position.
One recommendation is to lay on your back for about 15 minutes after sex. You don’t have to put your legs in the air, but laying down gives the sperm a chance to move where it needs to go before you move around too much.
While it’s not necessary, research shows it may help move the sperm slightly faster through the uterus and fallopian tubes.
No research has been done to confirm if it actually increases your chances of conception, so don’t worry too much if you don’t.
Most healthy sperm can survive anywhere from 2-5 days in a woman’s reproductive tract.
This is why it’s essential to have sex during your fertile window leading up to ovulation, to increase your chances of a sperm waiting when the egg is released.
It’s very unlikely, but the egg can survive after it’s released for up to 24 hours. So there is some potential there, but your chances are much smaller.
If your partner is set on briefs, don’t worry.
While boxers allow for more air flow, keeping the boys cooler, briefs don’t trap enough heat to really damage the sperm.
My husband compromised and wore boxers to bed since he is a hot sleeper.
Just try to avoid anything too restricting, and stay out of hot tubs, saunas or really hot baths during baby making season.
This is possible and is called anovulation. It happens when your ovaries don’t release an egg.
Possible symptoms include:
35 < day cycles
< 21 day cycles
irregular cycles or no period
PCOS can affect your ability to ovulate as well.
So you get up to use the bathroom after the deed is done, and a whole glob of stuff comes out!
Don’t panic – you are not losing sperm! So many women are under the impression that they won’t get pregnant if they don’t keep all that stuff inside. This is false!
The sperm breaks free of all that fluid and swims their way to your uterus. Meanwhile, all that stuff is mainly proteins and vitamins and can be flushed down the toilet.
Only about 1% (of 20-200 million) of the “stuff” is sperm. And most likely they would not have made it to through the cervix anyway.
So go ahead and pee and let that stuff fall out!
If your partner has a low sperm count, it can affect his sperm motility, or ability to reach the cervix.
If this is the case for you, I would refrain from using saliva as lube or practicing oral sex during your fertile window.
Otherwise, in a normal healthy couple, it is fine.
NO! For many reasons.
1. You may accidentally miss part of your fertile window. If you are using LH strips, you might not catch a peak until you are already about to ovulate. That means you will have missed out on a day or two leading up to ovulation.
2. As discussed above, you want healthy happy sperm to conceive. In order for that to happen, you want to clear out and generate new sperm every 2-3 days.
3. Research shows having sex helps regulate your cycle and ovulation.
So don’t wait!
A chemical pregnancy is a loss that happens after implantation, typically before your missed period.
Because it happens before your missed period, most women don’t even know they are pregnant yet and don’t realize they were even pregnant.
If you happen to test early and see a faint positive, and then test again a few days later and the line is gone, then chances are you had a chemical pregnancy.
A miscarriage is a loss of a fetus prior to the 20th week of gestation.
The most common time for a miscarriage is in the first 12 weeks. This is why most couples choose to wait to announce their exciting news until it is “safe”, or their risk has decreased.
Weeks 4-6 there is a 20% chance of miscarriage
Weeks 6-12 the risk drops to 10%
Weeks 13-20 the chances drop to 5%
An ectopic pregnancy happens when the embryo implants itself somewhere other than inside the uterus.
Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes, so they can also be referred to as tubal pregnancies.
It is a rare occurrence, siting 200,000 cases a year.
If you have pain in your abdominal area, or on one side of your body, bleeding, vomiting and/or sharp cramps, consult your OB immediately.
So there you have it. The ultimate guide to getting pregnant!
Becoming parents whether for the first or tenth time, is so exciting!
Remember, don’t stress, enjoy the process, have fun with it and enjoy your alone time while you’ve got it.
If you feel like I missed something, drop it in the comments and I will be glad to update this guide as time goes on!
Good luck mamas!! Baby dust! <3