So you've decided you want to get pregnant? Making these seven simple changes now can help increase your fertility (and your chances!) when it's go-time. Best of all, most of these fertility helpers don't even require a trip to the drugstore.
1. Find your healthy "get pregnant" weight.
Your fertility might be compromised if you are tipping the scale at an unhealthy number. "Fat cells store estrogen, so women who are overweight have higher than normal levels and often do not ovulate," says Dr. Allison Hill, co-author of The Mommy Docs' Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. The same is true for women who are underweight and typically have decreased estrogen. Dr. Hill tells all her patients who are looking to get pregnant to calculate their body mass index. This quickly tells you if you're within a healthy range.
2. Get up and go.
"Exercise helps to control your blood sugar, blood pressure and body weight, all of which are related to your ability to get pregnant," Dr. Hill says. She recommends regular exercise to all of her healthy patients who are trying for a baby. This means revving your heart four to five times a week for at least 30 minutes. Don't like solo exercise? Try to find a group class for extra motivation or snag a workout partner. Getting physical (not just in the bedroom) really can affect your fertility.
3. Know your cycle.
There is five-to-seven-day window each month when you can get pregnant. For women with regular menstrual cycles (between 28 and 32 days long), this window means you are most fertile around day 14 or 15. But if you have irregular periods or haven't spent much time charting your cycle, Dr. Hill suggests two simple and convenient ways that you can start tracking your biggest "get pregnant" days right now. Use an over-the-counter ovulation kit or, if you know the day of your last period and how long your cycle typically is, you can use an online ovulation predictor. It'll help you make the most of the fertility you've got.
4. No cigs, no sips.
We've all heard stories of women who found out they were pregnant after spending a crazy night on the town, all smokes and spirits. For most women, though, it's much harder to get pregnant when alcohol or nicotine is involved. Dr. Hill reminds would-be moms, "Cigarette smoke can lead to an early onset of infertility, and excessive alcohol consumption can lead to miscarriage." So if you're a smoker, quit now. And even though some reports say a little alcohol might be okay during pregnancy, we agree with doctors who say it isn't worth the risk.Try cutting back before conceiving, then go cold turkey once you know a baby's on board.
5. Stress less.
Seems easier said than done, especially if you're already nervous about your chances of conceiving each month, but one of the simplest ways to give your fertility a leg up is by calming your lifestyle. "Higher levels of chronic stress cause shifts in the body's natural hormone levels and can negatively affect ovulation," Dr. Hill says. So try a yoga class, read a soothing book, get more sleep. Anything you can do to promote serenity and peace will help, not just now, when you're trying to get pregnant, but later, when you're dealing with all the changes of pregnancy.
6. Check "you" out.
It's important to have any underlying medical illnesses such as diabetes or thyroid disease under control when trying to get pregnant. Get your blood pressure checked too: High blood pressure can hamper your ability to make a baby. Also, if you suffer from bouts of depression or anxiety, Dr. Hill recommends seeing a professional to make sure it's under control before you're expecting.
7. Eat smart.
If you don't already, start eating a well-balanced diet of carbs, fats, and proteins. "Processed foods, especially those with trans fats, found in hydrogenated oils, and loaded with refined sugar, can sabotage a healthy diet," Dr. Hill notes, "Make sure you're sticking to lean proteins and getting plenty of fruits and veggies each day and drink the recommended six to eight eight-ounce glasses of water."
Copyright © 2013 Meredith Corporation.