How To Get Pregnant (Or Not)

If you're trying for a baby, there are certain times to start and measures to put in place to boost your chances. Dr. Raewyn Tierney returns this season, this time sharing her best tips for falling pregnant.

Baby and mother

Okay, I think we all know how to get pregnant. However, it's not quite as easy as simply having sex. If you're trying for a baby, there are certain times when it's best to start the baby-making process, and particular measures to put in place to maximise your chances of falling pregnant.

Likewise, if you don't wish to fall pregnant, you can adapt these techniques on top of your birth control to help ensure you remain baby-free until the time is right for you! These tips should help you out:

Start Trying Before The Age Of 35

Obviously, it's generally unwise to become a teenage mum, even though girls and women are fertile as soon as their period begins. Aside from the fact that it's technically illegal to have sex until you're 16 and you're unlikely old enough to have a job to help support you and the baby, your body is still developing and probably shouldn't be reproducing at the same time. Biologically, the ideal age to try for a baby is between 20 and 35. This is when our eggs are at their prime – healthy and ready to be fertilised. Emotionally, though, 20 is still on the younger end of the spectrum, so if you are sure you want to become a mum this young in life, my advice to you would be to ensure you have a supportive and loyal partner and a good support network around you. Remember, too, that babies cost money – so you and your partner will need to be prepared for that.

My best advice would be to try around the age of 25-30, when you are most likely physically and emotionally mature enough to handle the responsibility of looking after another tiny human. Hopefully, by that stage, you and your partner will also have some money saved to set you forward in life without the stress of worrying how you will pay the bills. By the time a woman reaches the age of 35, the quantity and quality of her eggs begins to dwindle. If you haven't found the person you wish to become a parent with by this age, or you're simply not quite ready, you may wish to consider freezing your eggs. This way, when you do decide to have a child, the eggs will be as healthy and fertile as they were on the day they were frozen.

pregnant woman

How To Get Pregnant By Tracking Your Cycle

Some couples get lucky and just fall pregnant at the drop of a hat. Others have to try harder. Whatever the case, the fact is that women who track their menstrual cycle are more aware of when they are ovulating and therefore have improved chances of conceiving.

So, how do you do this? Firstly, monitor your basal body temperature using a digital high-speed thermometer. Women with a regular menstrual cycle will notice a small drop in temperature – about 0.2 degrees celsius when they are ovulating, which then rises again a couple of days later. This is the perfect time to get busy baby-making! Next, you can test for Luteinising Hormone (LH), which is the hormone that triggers the eggs’ release into the fallopian tube. A simple urine test can detect when LH levels rise. Changes in your cervical secretions can also indicate that it's time to start trying to conceive. When your oestrogen levels are low, mucus secretion will be minimal. When they are high (when you are fertile), it will appear creamy and slightly wet, but when you’re at your most fertile, it will be clear in appearance, thin, slippery and stretchy. Look out for other signs of fertility, too. These include one-sided lower pelvic pain (on either side of the pelvis), which is a sign of ovulation, a heightened libido and an amplified sense of smell and taste. Some women may also experience enlarged and tender breasts, fluid retention, acne and bloating. And if that's all a bit too confusing, you can roll it all into one simple app, like my new ‘Conceive Please’ app, which helps track your cycle for you and help you accurately predict your most fertile days. The more you use it, the more accurate it becomes – and the better chance you have of falling pregnant!

Pregnant woman on phone app

Avoid Drugs

Whether you're trying to get pregnant or not, taking any kind of illicit drug is just a big mistake. Amongst the myriad dangers, it's harmful to the health of both the male and female in the couple and it can impair their sex drive. Furthermore, it can lead to impotency in men.

Quit The Cigs Again, this is a no-brainer – whether you're trying for a baby or not! Smoking negatively affects the quality, health and ability of the reproductive organs of guys and girls. It slows sperm down by creating oxidative stress, which means it is harder for it to reach the egg and fertilise it. Smoking also has a detrimental effect on the health and quality of the woman's eggs. It also increases the chance of miscarriage and stillborn babies. In a nutshell, it’s extremely damaging to both the sperm and eggs’ abilities to do the job that nature intended. If you’re having trouble quitting, call the Quit Line on 13 78 48.

Cut down on Alcohol One to two standard alcoholic drinks a day is the maximum recommended for all of us. For those of us trying to get pregnant, it's best to cut out booze altogether. Too much alcohol can negatively affect both the egg and the sperm and may lower chances of conception.

woman drinking sparkling water

Eat Your Greens And your reds, yellows, oranges, purples ... all the colours of the rainbow. A well-balanced diet with plenty of antioxidant-filled fruits and veggies helps to provide the body with all the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to facilitate conception and a healthy pregnancy. Both partners should be sure to eat lean protein with each meal, lots of nutritious whole foods and load up on antioxidant-dense vegetables and fruits. Likewise, they should ditch processed, sugary foods and drinks and anything chemical-laden. Try to eat organically, where possible.

Exercise (not extra fries)

A sedentary lifestyle doesn't do anyone any good. The body needs to move in order to transport oxygen and nutrients to all our organs, including the reproductive organs. If you skip exercise, your health will suffer – including that of the reproductive organs. And even if you don't want to use them right now, you may wish to do so later. So, keep them as healthy as possible now for the best possible outcome later. Even just a brisk walk three times a week improves your general wellbeing. Exercise makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, and even improve your sex drive! It's also worth noting here that maintaining an ideal weight is recommended for your best chance of conceiving.

exercise fitness women

Start Taking Vitamins

Ideally, women who are thinking about trying to conceive should start taking a 500 mcg supplement of folic acid daily and at least a month prior to conception. Folic acid is a B group vitamin and is essential for neural tube development during the first 12 weeks of foetal growth. For the males in the couple, I always suggest they increase their intake of antioxidants and selenium, zinc and garlic – as these support male fertility and sperm health.