From parenting websites to mummy bloggers, the internet is full of advice on what couples should and should not do if they want to start a family – and it can be difficult to know where to start.
That’s why we’ve compiled the seven top tips every couple needs to know if they’re ready to start trying for a baby, from the best food to eat and the role of nutritional prenatal supplements if you’re trying to conceive.
We have also debunked the common conception myths you might have heard, like if there is a sex position that gives you a better chance of falling pregnant.
So, if you are ready to start trying for a baby or you are already on your journey, read on to discover the seven tips every future mum and dad needs to know…
1. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR CYCLE
Best chance possible: This is because you are most likely to conceive if you have sex within a day or so of ovulation, which is usually about 14 days after the first day of your last period
The chances are you are already keeping track of your menstrual cycle, but many women pay more attention when they are trying to fall pregnant.
This is because you are most likely to conceive if you have sex within a day or so of ovulation, which is usually about 14 days after the first day of your last period, if your cycle is around 28 days long.
An egg lives for about 12-24 hours after being released from the ovary and needs to be fertilised by a sperm within this time.
However, this is far from the only time of the month you can fall pregnant. In fact, sperm can live inside the human body for up to seven days. So, if you’ve had sex in the days before ovulation the sperm will have had time to travel up and wait for the egg to be released.
Out of every 100 couples trying for a baby, over 80 are likely to fall pregnant in the first 12 months of trying. Others may take longer, or possibly need more help.
If you think keeping track of your cycle could help, try making a note in your diary or downloading an app that will help do the calculations for you.
2. STARTING TAKING A PRENATAL FOLIC ACID SUPPLEMENT
Support your body: Pregnacare Him & Her Conception from Vitabiotics (left), the UK’s No.1 pregnancy supplement brand, is an easy one-stop shop for couples who want to safeguard their daily nutritional intake. Right, Pregnacare Conception is packed with carefully-balanced micronutrients including folic acid, Vitamin D, iron and zinc
Pregnancy will mark a major change for you and your body, so it is important to make sure you are as prepared as can be.
Folic acid: Why it’s so important in pregnancy
A single Pregnacare Conception capsule contains 400µg of folic acid, the exact daily dose recommended by the NHS for all women trying to fall pregnant and those within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Folic acid is very important for the development of a healthy foetus and can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida.
The beneficial effect is obtained with a supplemental folic acid daily intake of 400µg for at least one month before and up to three months after conception.
Designed especially for women, Pregnacare Conception is packed with carefully-balanced micronutrients including folic acid, Vitamin D, iron and zinc that play an important role in helping to build the body’s nutrient stores for pregnancy.
Zinc is scientifically proven to contribute to normal fertility and reproduction and Vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron and magnesium have a role in the process of cell division. Based on latest scientific research, the latest improved Pregnacare Conception formula includes 20µg Vitamin D.
It is important for couples to be in the best possible health nutritionally, ideally at least 3-6 months before a baby is conceived. The sperm and ovum are formed well in advance of fertilization and need to be provided with the best nutrition possible for when they combine. For example, sperm take 75 days to form and up to 21 days to mature, which means a man’s current lifestyle and health will affect the sperm he produces 3 months from now. So, a healthy lifestyle and good nutritional intake is as equally as important for your partner, who will want to be at his healthiest while you are trying to conceive
Pregnacare Him & Her Conception from Vitabiotics, the UK’s No.1 pregnancy supplement brand, is an ideal solution for couples who want to safeguard their daily nutritional intake.
The dual pack provides Pregnacare Conception for her, plus Wellman Conception supplement, designed for him. Wellman Conception includes zinc which contributes to normal fertility and reproduction plus the maintenance of normal testosterone levels in the blood. It also contains selenium, which contributes to normal spermatogenesis and iodine, which contributes to normal production of thyroid hormones and function.
3. HAVE REGULAR SEX – WHATEVER WAY WORKS FOR YOU!
Get in between the sheets! The NHS recommends couples have sex every two to three days to improve their chances of conceiving
It sounds obvious, but the amount of sex you’re having will have an impact on how likely you are to conceive.
The NHS recommends couples have sex every two to three days to improve their chances. Depending on your current bedroom habits, this might mean making more time to be intimate with each other.
Although some people claim there are certain positions that boost the chances of an egg being fertilised, the reality is that there is no scientific research that definitively backs this up.
That means that you can both relax and enjoy having sex whatever way works best for you. And remember, you’re most likely to get pregnant if you have sex within a day or so of ovulation.
4. EAT A COLOURFUL DIET
Healthy and happy: There is no special diet or quick-fix tips for pregnancy, it’s simply a case of eating a variety of different, nutritious foods every day to make sure your body is healthy
A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for you and your partner at any time, but is especially vital if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy because it will help support your reproductive health and help your baby to develop and grow.
There is no special diet or quick-fix tips, it’s simply a case of eating a variety of different, nutritious foods every day – ‘eating a rainbow’ is good target to aim for with a colourful mix of different foods to maximise the nutritional content.
If you’re looking to make a change, start by keeping a food diary, noting down what you currently eat to see if you’re getting a mix of fruit and veg, carbohydrates, protein and dairy (with the occasional treat, too!)
One important change to make is to ensure you are upping your intake of foods rich in folic acid as well as taking a folic acid supplement. The Department of Health and Social Care recommend a daily supplement of 400µg a day for all women trying to conceive, which can be found in Pregnacare Conception and all Pregnacare supplements.
5. CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL TOGETHER, OR BETTER STILL DON’T DRINK IT AT ALL
Ditch the booze: The safest approach is to avoid alcohol if you’re trying to fall pregnant
The Chief Medical Officers for the UK recommend that if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink, the greater the risk.
If you don’t like the idea of being alone in giving up your favourite tipple why not ask your partner to do the same? There will be health benefits for him too, as excessive alcohol can lower testosterone levels and sperm quality and quantity in men.
By avoiding alcohol together it will be easier to support each other and gives you both an opportunity to discover a new favourite alcohol-free drink.
6. MAKE SURE YOU’RE AT A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Reduce the risk: Being overweight or obese can lead to problems such as gestational diabetes, so it is best to be at a healthy weight when you start trying to conceive
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for a whole variety of reasons.
But women might want to pay extra attention if they are trying to fall pregnant because being overweight or obese can lead to problems such as gestational diabetes.
In contrast, by reaching a healthy weight you increase your chances of conceiving naturally and reduce the risk of any of these conditions associated with weight.
If you are looking for a way to start, try slowly upping your exercise and paying more attention to what you eat. Your GP is also a good place to turn if you’re looking for extra support and advice.
7. STAY ACTIVE!
Good habits: Exercising at this stage will help during pregnancy and once the baby is here
Regular exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul, and this doesn’t change when you’re trying to fall pregnant or expecting.
Getting into good habits while you are trying to conceive will help you once you do fall pregnant.
Being fit and active during pregnancy will help you adapt to your changing shape and weight.
It will also you help cope with labour and get back to fitness once you’ve given birth, and for you both to keep up with the demands of parenthood when your little one arrives.
Whatever a couple’s experience of fertility issues, one thing they have in common is the need for support and advice on a practical and emotional level.
Gwenda Burns, Chief Executive of the charity Fertility Network UK said ‘1 in 6 couples in the UK face issues with fertility. Fertility Network UK is the nation’s leading patient-focused fertility charity.
We are here to provide free and impartial help, support, advice and understanding for anyone affected by fertility issues, you are not alone’.
And the 7 myths you should ignore
Now that you have all this great advice at your fingertips, it’s safe to ignore these conception myths you might have come across…
1. YOU’LL STRUGGLE TO FALL PREGNANT AFTER YEARS ON THE PILL
You might have read that women who have taken the contraceptive pill for years will struggle to conceive once they decide to come off but that just isn’t the case. Some women start ovulating again as soon as they stop using the pill, while others can take a month or so to readjust. In either case, it shouldn’t impact your long-term plans or give you any reason to worry.
2. BOXERS ARE BETTER THAN BRIEFS
When a man gets overheated down there – whether that’s in a hot tub, a sauna, or within the confines of tight-fitting briefs – his sperm production could go down. Some people say this means its better for men to wear boxers rather than briefs when they are trying to start a family. However studies show that the impact underwear has on sperm production isn’t enough to affect fertility, so there’s no need to throw away those tighty-whities!
3. YOU NEED TO ORGASM TO CONCEIVE
Orgasms are always going to make sex more pleasurable for a woman but they are not necessary in order to conceive. However your partner will have to reach completion.
4. COUGH MEDICINE CAN HELP YOU GET PREGNANT
One of the more out-there conception myths is that cough medicine can help you fall pregnant because it helps loosen up cervical mucus, theoretically making it easier for sperm to travel. However there is no science to back this up and is definitely a myth best avoided.
5. WHEN YOU HAVE SEX WILL DETERMINE THE SEX OF YOUR BABY
There are plenty of (unfounded) theories on when to have sex if you want to have a boy or a girl. One suggests having sex right before ovulation if you are desperate for a son and right afterwards if you have your heart set on a daughter. But the reality is the timing doesn’t affect your chances!
6. WHAT YOU EAT WILL HELP DECIDE THE BABY’S SEX
Other parents determined to control whether they have a boy or a girl claim their diet makes a difference. One myth claims that if you eat a diet high in salt you will have a boy, while a diet high in dairy will help you have a girl. The truth is that you’ll have a 50/50 chance of having either – no matter what you eat.
7. PUT YOUR LEGS UP TO MAKE SURE THE SPERM STAYS PUT
One of the most common pregnancy myths is that you should lie on your back with your legs raised against the wall for 30 minutes after having sex to better your chances of conceiving. However this isn’t founded in science. Sperm will immediately head ‘upwards’ after ejaculation while seminal fluid will travel downwards, which is why you can sometimes feel a trickle after sex.