Pregnancy. The time is right and you’re ready to try. But how can you boost your chances? You’re not alone in your quest for answers. One of Google’s most-popular searches is: “How to get pregnant.”
If you’re among those scouting for sound strategies, read on. Below, Khaudeja Bano, M.D., a senior medical director at Abbott, shares tips for enhancing your fertility whether you’re at the starting line or partway through your pregnancy pursuit.
Where to Start?
One of the most important steps when thinking about getting pregnant is visiting your doctor. This goes for both you and your partner.
“For families thinking about pregnancy, it starts with being prepared both physically and mentally,” says Dr. Bano. “A good place to start is to think about your goals for having children and to talk about them with your partner and then your doctor.”
Your physician will review your medical background, family history, health and lifestyle factors, birth control use and nutrition to determine if there are any factors that may influence your pregnancy plans. These are factors that can unlock additional information that could impact your pregnancy potential.
During your exam, your doctor may also ask you if your mom or grandmother had a history of early pregnancy losses or delayed conception, Bano says.
Don’t be afraid to have frank discussions. Working with your doctor to address past or current health conditions early in your pregnancy journey can ensure that they don’t become barriers later.
What Do You Do If You’re Having Trouble Getting Pregnant?
While most couples do not have problems getting pregnant, challenges are common. In the U.S., 1 in 8 couples (or 12 percent of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. In the UK, 1 in 6 couples, and others, struggle with infertility.
"Doctors recommend that women age 35 and older try for no longer than six months before meeting with a fertility specialist," says Bano. "Women younger than 35 should still try for a year, unless they have a condition that could make it difficult to become pregnant. In the latter case, they shouldn't wait a full year to seek an evaluation."
If you’re having trouble conceiving, your doctor may recommend some of the screenings listed in the following infographic.
According to Bano, "For women, your doctor may check if your hormones are at the expected level during the various phases of your cycle. Some tests to check your hormones include ones that measure your follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), your estrogen level, and your progesterone levels.”
Your doctor may also opt to check the function of your thyroid gland, testing you for hypothyroidism, a condition in which your gland doesn’t produce enough of the right hormones. Low thyroid hormones can affect the release of an egg from your ovaries and impact fertility, according to the Mayo Clinic. Underlying causes of hypothyroidism like pituitary disorders could also inhibit your chances of getting pregnant.
Surprisingly, your body’s vitamin production has a significant connection to your fertility. Vitamin D deficiency for example, is linked to infertility and lower pregnancy rates, according to a review by Brigham and Young University.
Taking a Holistic Approach
Medical tests are just one piece of the fertility puzzle.
Couples considering pregnancy should assess their daily habits and diet. Eating healthy, exercising, and quitting smoking are important lifestyle changes to make before getting pregnant, Bano notes.
Other good habits include taking vitamins regularly, reducing alcohol intake, and limiting caffeine. Folic acid also plays an important role in ensuring a healthy pregnancy, and it is essential to get enough prior to conception.
Folic acid is one of many super-star nutrients that our bodies need to run on all cylinders. Every day, new cells are rapidly reproducing in every organ of our bodies and without folic acid, none of it would happen. Not only is it important to get enough folic acid before pregnancy, you should continue to take it throughout your pregnancy both for your own health and to support your baby’s growth and development.
“Folic acid has a very important role in making those cell reproductions possible and happen in an efficient manner,” Tama Bloch, RDN, a pediatric research scientist with Abbott says.
And don’t forget to focus on your emotional and mental health, Bano says. Keeping stress and anxiety levels low can relax your body and aid to a successful pregnancy. Consider meditation, listening to calm music, and taking regular strolls, she suggests.
Testing 101. Check out this infographic for more information on common fertility tests.
For more information on healthy eating before and during pregnancy, check out these articles:
Folic Acid: Women Need It Well Before Pregnancy
Mommy Nutrition: Why It’s So Important For Mom and Baby
Gestational Diabetes: Must-Know Facts