Before you started trying to get pregnant, you probably assumed that making a baby would be as easy as rolling into bed with your sweetheart. But, in truth, only a minority of couples will become pregnant on the first try—and many couples find it difficult to conceive (more than five million people of childbearing age in the U.S. experience fertility problems, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.)
Because trying can be, well, trying, here are some tips for keeping your cool while waiting for that positive pregnancy test.
Tip # 1: Know the facts. Learn the basics about ovulation and conception, and become familiar with your menstrual cycle so you can pinpoint your fertile days (and a product like Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System can make it easier). This will help you properly time intercourse, and will give you some sense of control over the conception process.
Tip #2: Practice patience—at first. If you're not getting pregnant right away, you're not alone! It takes time, even for the healthiest couples. Try not to obsess, which will only make the time pass more slowly. Focus on other things—your work, your hobbies, anything you enjoy. But don't stay patient forever. If you're under 35 and have been trying conscientiously for 12 months, or if you're 35 or older and have been trying for six months, then it's time to see the doctor for a fertility evaluation.
Tip #3: Try something new to keep the sparks flying. Let's face it—few things are less sexy than taking your temperature and charting your periods. So how do you sustain desire while sticking to a schedule? Use your imagination, and shake things up a bit! Treat yourself to new lingerie each month, or set the mood with a romantic movie or music. Try a change of scenery— make love in a different room, in a hotel, or even in a tent in the backyard. Try anything you can think of that's appealing, fun, and new. The key is to avoid is a tense, do-or-die atmosphere. Whatever you can do to keep the mood light and loving, go for it!
Tip #4: Seek support. When you're trying to get pregnant, it can sometimes seem as if the whole world already has a baby or is expecting one. That's simply not true. There are scads of people who are trying, too—sharing your ups and downs with them can be very comforting (plus, a recent study indicated that couples who sought support had improved fertility rates!). Check out RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, which has local branches that often run support groups, or ask your doctor to recommend a mental-health counselor trained in fertility issues.
Tip #5: Don't be afraid to take time off. If the conception routine is taking a toll on you, your spouse, or your relationship, don't be afraid to take a break for a while. Relax and enjoy each other's company. Have sex just for fun and pay no attention to cycle days. A few months like this can recharge your spirits and certainly won't do any harm to your chances of conceiving.
Tip #6: Have some answers prepared for inquiring relatives and friends. One of the toughest challenges faced by couples trying to conceive is dealing with questions and "helpful" advice from their loved ones. When someone asks when you're finally going to have kids, don't feel obligated to delve into your situation if you don't feel like it. Just smile and say, "As soon as I know, I'll let you know!" If someone tells you, "It's all in your head! Just stop worrying and you'll get pregnant!" just say something like "Thanks for the advice," and change the subject.
Tip #7: Indulge yourself. The quest for conception can be an emotional roller coaster, full of high hope, disappointments, and maddening stretches of waiting. So this is a time to be extra nice to yourself and your spouse. That "monthly visitor" has just made its unwelcome appearance? Treat yourself to whatever makes you feel better—a manicure, a chocolate milkshake, a massage. Take yourselves out to dinner and the funniest, trashiest movie you can find. Now could be the perfect time to book that trip you've always dreamed of—even if you're on a budget, you could visit good friends or taken a weekend camping trip in some beautiful spot. The point is to pamper yourself—you deserve it!