With Singapore’s fertility rate hitting a low of 1.233 last year, it was evident that fewer couples were thinking about extending their families. Multiple factors such as social distancing, financial stability, and age were contributing to dissuading couples from conceiving. However, if you want to start a family this year, know that you are not alone.
There are many couples like you who are contemplating expanding their brood in 2021. However, while making this decision is the first step in the right direction, there is a lot more that contributes to a successful pregnancy than successful conception. Age is a crucial factor to conceiving in the new normal, especially if you’ve hit the big ‘30.’
As a healthy 30-something woman, you may have about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month. But by the time you turn 40, your chance drops to only 5 percent in a given month. So, getting pregnant is not as simple as having sex. By 45, fertility has declined so much that getting pregnant naturally is unlikely for most women. The struggle doesn’t end here.
There are some other complications of conceiving late too. As a woman ages, the risk of having a baby with missing, damaged, or extra chromosomes increases as well.
Yes, it can get quite stressful. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including good food habits, getting adequate sleep, and going for regular check-ups can help you plan your pregnancy journey better.
If you are anxious and trying to conceive, tips that we provide to you today will help you plan better.
Conceiving In The New Normal: Tips For The Modern Woman
Monitor your ovulating days
When you plan to get pregnant, the first step would be to monitor your ovulation days.
As you know, ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary. The egg then moves down the fallopian tube where it can be fertilised and is only viable for about 24 hours once it has been released. If sperms are in the fallopian tube when the egg is released, there is a good chance that the egg will be fertilised, creating an embryo, which can grow into a baby. (A man’s sperm can survive in a woman’s body for up to five days.)
Now all of this process if timed well can end in pregnancy. So for instance, if your average menstrual cycle is 28 days, and you ovulate around day 14, you are most fertile days are days 12, 13 and 14. Having sex during this time can increase your chances of natural conception.
If let’s say your average menstrual cycle is 35 days, ovulation will happen around day 21 and you will be most fertile on the 19th, 20th and 21st day of the month. If you track these days you increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Now keeping this in mind, we come to the question- when is the right time to have sex?
Know the right time to have sex
The key to successful conception is to have sex in the days before and during ovulation.
However, remember every woman’s cycle is different.
If your cycles are regular, you will ovulate around two weeks before your period. This means your fertile window will be seven days before your expected ovulation. On the other hand, if you have irregular menses, it can be difficult to predict when you will ovulate and when your fertile window will be. To make your job easier, you can use an ovulation predictor kit.
The kit comprises test strips that detect luteinizing hormone (LH). It surges right before ovulation. Once you have a positive result, you should have sex that day and for the next few days.
During these days there are also some other changes which can take place in your body, for instance, changes in the cervical mucus. This is another factor to bear in mind.
During your ovulation phase, a rise in oestrogen causes your cervical mucus to become thin and slippery. Once you start seeing these changes, you should begin having sex every day or every other day until ovulation.
A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that women who checked their cervical mucus consistently were 2.3 times more likely to get pregnant over a six-month period.
Once you start to ovulate, you will notice that your cervical mucus will become thick and sticky.
There are plenty of apps on both androids and iOS to help track your dates better. But, there is always room for inaccuracies. In a 2016-study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, scientists analysed 50 popular fertility-tracking websites and apps with a hypothetical woman and found that the results varied wildly. There were many mistakenly tagging days outside of the fertility window.
So, remember, that there will be always room for error. If you are lucky, you may get pregnant at the first chance, if not, then you need to keep trying.
The other crucial factor is a healthy and fit body. You need to prepare your body and adjust your lifestyle to maximise your chances of conception and improve your fertility.
Once you have decided to become a mum, it is best to strictly avoid or limit the intake of alcohol as it reduces fertility. Once you know you’re pregnant, you should stop drinking immediately. You also need to avoid alcoholic drinks if your period is late. There are some studies that suggest that drinking a moderate amount of alcohol daily can significantly increase the risk of fertility.
Caffeine is thought to restrict the growth of a developing baby by constricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the uterus. So limit caffeine intake to below 300mg per day, equivalent to four cups of instant coffee, three cups of fresh coffee or six cups of tea. Whenever you have any strong urge, try and divert your mind or choose alternatives such as coconut water or fresh juices instead.
You need to stop smoking immediately to increase the chances of getting pregnant. Women have a 40 percent lower chance of getting pregnant if they smoke, according to a report published by the British Medical Association (BMA). The effect of smoking on men is also equally damaging as it decreases sperm count and increases sperm abnormalities in men. Therefore, tell your partners why they also need to quit smoking as well.
One of the major changes in your lifestyle is to inculcate daily exercises. Women who exercise regularly are less likely to experience the uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy.
Also, a fit, healthy body is also more likely to cope better with childbirth. However, do remember to maintain a balance because excessive amounts of exercise can lead to fertility problems such as irregular periods and anovulatory cycles (cycles where ovulation does not occur).
Before you conceive, visit your doctor to start with supplements. Taking a supplement with the consultation of the doctor before conception is helpful and prepares your body for conception.
Prenatal supplements can provide you with 400mcg folic acid and other nutrients such as l-arginine vitamin D and vitamin B12, which help support the nutritional requirements of women who try to conceive.
Maintain a healthy sex life
Truth be told, you may need to have sex often, at least three times a week. Yes, you read that right! The more you try, the higher the chances of you getting pregnant. However, at the end of the day don’t just make this about a routine, and try to enjoy it just as much as with some role playing or toys or even sensual massages. Because the fact is that the more relaxed you are, the more body will emit happy hormones and the higher are your chances of conception.
By the way, did you know that several studies have found links between the women’s levels of day-to-day stress and lowered chances of pregnancy? For instance, women whose saliva had high levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme that marks stress, took 29 percent longer to get pregnant compared to those who had less. So the ideal way to increase your chances of getting pregnant is by reducing your stress levels.
Opt for a spa massage, or a relaxing weekend getaway, staycation, or some chill time with your friends, whatever your idea of relaxation may be.
As you try to conceive, a healthy and wholesome diet needs to be your friend. Stop junk food intake and focus on a clean diet, especially now when post-pandemic, immunity-boosting is the need of the hour. Here are some foods that are a must when you are trying to conceive.
- Leafy greens such as broccoli, fortified breakfast cereals, citrus fruits and pulses provide folic acid and make your body strong.
- To boost your immunity, fish, whole grain bread, asparagus, spinach and watercress will provide zinc.
- If you are looking for iron, then breakfast cereals, lentils, soybeans, dried fruit and leafy greens like spinach will have an adequate amount of it.
- Consuming mono-unsaturated fat – found in peanuts, almonds and cashews may help in conception as well.
Planning a baby can be quite a task, especially with suggestions and advice pouring in from all corners. It is important to filter through what works or doesn’t work for you. For your convenience, we have tried to address a few popular myths around pregnancy that will also help you with conceiving in the new normal.
Myths Busted: From Ovulation To Pregnancy
Myth-1: Having sex daily will increase the chance of pregnancy
Couples who are trying to conceive are encouraged to have intercourse regularly to increase their chances of conception. However, having sex daily is likely to leave you exhausted and stress isn’t good for conception anyway. So perhaps it is an experiment for another time as you need strength and good health to be able to conceive.
Myth-2: No need for supplements, get the nutrients from your diet
It is not true. Women are advised to take a supplement containing 400mcg of folic acid daily while trying to conceive and for the first three months of pregnancy. It is not possible to eat a perfect diet all the time, so your body will have many missing nutrients.
Taking a supplement specifically designed for conception or pregnancy can help to ensure that there are plenty of all the vitamins and minerals.
Myth-3: You should be eating for two when you are pregnant
There is no evidence to show that you need to eat for two when you’re pregnant. Your diet depends on your weight and height, how active you are and how far into your pregnancy you are. Therefore, doctors always advise to not overeat.
Myth-4: Morning sickness only happens in the morning
Nausea during pregnancy can happen any time of the day due to changes in your hormone. So don’t be alarmed if you experience it any time other than morning. Although that is not to say that most women do experience symptoms like severe nausea, vomiting in the morning. They, however, get better after the first three months.
Myth-5: Spice during pregnancy causes blindness in babies.
Eating spicy foods during pregnancy is perfectly safe. Spices are natural and may be beneficial during your pregnancy especially for blood circulation. However, use everything in moderation as excessive spices may lead to heartburn.
Myth-6: You can’t get pregnant on your period
It is possible to get pregnant if a woman has sex during their period, according to the Cleveland Clinic. You are less likely to get pregnant during menstruation, but it is still possible.
The truth is there’s so much to learn about pregnancy and still many unknowns. If you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, consult your doctor for medical advice. In the meantime, try to make small changes to your daily routine and follow these tips which are sure to help you increase your chances of getting pregnant.
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News Source: Live science, Healthline, Fertility Network UK