So you’ve decided that you want to have children! Now that you’ve made this decision, you may be feeling eager to get pregnant as soon as possible. You may even be feeling as terrified as I was that you have “put it off for too long” and will not be able to get pregnant! What should you do? The seven key things you should do right now are:
First, immediately invest in a fertility monitor, such as Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor, to get started. The goal is to get to know your ovulation cycle better, so you can plan around it. In a few months, you should be able to figure out when your LH surge is. This way, you’ll know the best time to have sex and increase your chances of getting pregnant. Remember that you should only have sex a maximum of twice during your fertility window for the best results. Intercourse is a common method of contraception, but many women don’t realize that having sex too often can actually lower the number of sperm delivered during ovulation, when fertilization is most likely to occur.
Second, getting an appointment with the most highly recommended acupuncturist in your area can help to stimulate your ovaries, which is important for producing a healthy, mature egg to be fertilized. Acupuncture can also help to regulate your cycle so that it is more predictable – something that is especially important if you have been taking birth control pills for an extended period of time. Birth control pills prevent pregnancy by tricking the body into thinking it is already pregnant. This causes the ovaries to stop releasing eggs. Over time, this makes the ovaries lazy from lack of use. They will either not release an egg or release an immature egg that isn’t capable of leading to a successful pregnancy.
Third, if you’re hoping to conceive soon, it’s time to take a good hard look at your diet and make some changes. You may think you’re already eating the best foods for pregnancy, but it’s unlikely. To increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy, you need to be consuming at least 80-100 grams of protein per day. You’ll also need to up your intake of healthy fats (think omega 3s) and cholesterol (from egg yolks, for example). When trying to get pregnant, it’s important to eat organic, free-range and unprocessed foods as much as possible. The hormones, antibiotics and other toxins present in conventionally raised and grown foods can interfere with your health and efforts to conceive. For example, meat raised in the US by conventional methods often contains hormones (estrogen) and antibiotics, as well as toxins from the pesticides in the feed. You should also minimize your consumption of soy products, as this can also lead to an estrogen-to-progesterone imbalance. If your estrogen-to-progesterone balance is not ideal, your uterus may not have a thick enough lining for a fertilized egg to attach to. This can make it difficult to conceive and carry a healthy baby to term. I found the Weston A Price website helpful when researching diet and nutrition during pregnancy, especially under the keywords “Diet for Mothers”.
Fourth, there’s no magic number when it comes to how much sleep you need per night, but eight hours is a good target to aim for. Getting enough solid sleep helps reduce stress levels and gives your body time to remove toxins. If you’re trying to get pregnant, getting enough sleep is essential. One tip for actually getting enough sleep is to listen to relaxation MP3s or books on tape. This can help if you have a busy mind that keeps you up at night. The goal is to provide your brain with an activity that will occupy it, so you can stop worrying and fall asleep. Listening to books has the advantage over reading (which is my second recommendation) of allowing you to get into your favorite sleeping position and close your eyes. NEVER watch TV to go to sleep as TV is known to stimulate your brain, resulting in less restive sleep.
Fifth, reducing stress levels is one of the best things you can do for your fertility and pregnancy. When you’re stressed, your immune system function decreases, which is not ideal when you’re trying to get pregnant. Animals that are constantly running away from a threat also don’t usually reproduce successfully because they’re not in the best position to do so. If you’re producing a lot of stress hormones, then you’re NOT producing the hormones necessary for conception. So try to relax and de-stress as much as possible – your body will thank you for it! Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but it comes with a lot of stress and responsibility. Stress can actually be detrimental to pregnancy, often resulting in premature labor, preterm babies, and preeclampsia. To give yourself the best chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy, do an evaluation of your life and stressors. Make a plan for reducing or eliminating each stressor so that you can focus on taking care of yourself and your baby during this special time.
Sixth, you should make sure you’re getting the right amount of exercise – neither too little nor too much. Moderate exercise for 30 minutes to an hour 3-5 times a week is a good amount. If you’re not sure if your current exercise routine is excessive, ask yourself if you would recommend it to your retirement age mother. If you wouldn’t recommend it, then it’s too excessive!
Seventh, it’s important to evaluate your career situation before starting a family so that you can set yourself – and your future child – up for success. If your current job is causing you excessive stress, it will not only affect your ability to get pregnant, but also your ability to stay pregnant and create a healthy work-life balance after the baby is born. Take a hard look at what kinds of changes you may need to make to your career in order to be able to balance it with motherhood gracefully. For example, if you work in high-tech sales and your job requires you to travel 50-80% of the time, it will be almost impossible to nurture a baby. Making these types of changes before starting a family will help you ensure that you’re able to be the best mother possible. Being a mother is one of the most important and rewarding jobs a woman can have, but it doesn’t mean that every job is conducive to motherhood. With some careful planning, you can transition into a career that will provide both the income and professional satisfaction you desire, as well as the time and flexibility you need to be a successful mother. Finding the right balance between work and motherhood can be difficult, but it is possible to have it all with the right planning!