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Are you trying to get pregnant, or considering trying soon? To be able to get pregnant responsibly, you need to do an awful lot more than quitting birth control.

Couples increase their chances of conceiving quickly if they are aware of their fertile window and in good health, and they boost their odds of enjoying a healthy nine months if they take a good, critical look at their lifestyle before they start trying for a baby. Read on for some no-nonsense fertility and conception tips.  

Women who would like to try to conceive often begin focusing on all the exciting parts I know I did, when we first talked about having kids! You may be reading up about pregnancy, babies, your menstrual cycle and ovulation tests. Before you ditch your birth control, you'll have to take a look at the more mundane and even outright scary aspects of trying to conceive too. Of course, there's the emotional side.

Do you and your partner both want kids, and do you actually agree about parenting issues? Do you have any relationship problems you should really deal with before trying to conceive? Do you have unresolved situations from your childhood or adult past that you ought to tackle in therapy before becoming a mom?

Obviously, these are things you should really deal with before having a baby. We'll stick to fertility and conception tips in this post though. Here's what every couple who is considering getting pregnant should definitely look into.

Preconception Health Check

You may think that you're healthy and fit, but are you really? Your general health can affect your fertility in some cases, but that's not the worst that can happen. If you do get pregnant with certain health problems, there could be consequences for both you and your baby. Your family doctor will know what to look out for, of course. At a preconception check-up, you can expect:

  • Looking at those basic issues like weight, blood pressure, and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases, and have your partner do the same. This is something you should do even if you are pretty convinced you could not possibly have an STD.
  • Have a PAP smear, if you were due for one.
  • Your doctor will take your medical history if it is a new doctor, and they will ask questions about your menstrual cycle.
  • If you have any medical conditions, you will discuss how these may affect your fertility and later on a pregnancy. Those who take medications for chronic conditions will have to check if they are compatible with pregnancy.
  • You'll probably get some general advice about taking folic acid, and eating a healthy and balanced diet. You'll also be asked about smoking and drinking, and will be advised to stop engaging in these things if you did.
  • If you were on birth control that needs to be removed by a medical professional, now is the time to make sure that happens.

Implement Lifestyle Changes

Do you currently smoke, drink, or do recreational drugs? Stop it. You'll also want to make sure you eat well and remedy any nutritional deficiencies your health check-up revealed. Being at a healthy weight will positively influence your odds of getting pregnant, and it will also help you enjoy a healthy and easier pregnancy. Exercising regularly benefits every person who wants to conceive, whether they happen to be a man or a woman. Folic acid, too, is great for both halves of a couple.

In some cases, you will need to wait a while to see the positive results of changes you make. Folic acid builds up over around three months, for example. Quitting smoking can be more of a process than a single decision. If there is anything at all that you could benefit from changing, why not give yourself the three months you need for the folic acid to really help before ditching your chosen birth control method? (Keeping in mind that it takes a while for your fertility to return with some birth control methods, like Depo Provera, too).

Know Your Fertility

Once you have had your preconception counseling and have made the lifestyle choices you needed to make, you're good to go. There are many possible approaches to getting pregnant. You could take the relaxed approach. That would be having sex when you feel like it and seeing if that will get you pregnant. Being intimate a little more often than usual but not tracking ovulation would be a slightly more proactive approach to getting pregnant. If you have intercourse every two or three days throughout your cycle, you are bound to get pregnant sooner or later (barring fertility issues). You could also look into ways to track your fertile window. Options include:

  • Using an ovulation calendar
  • Using ovulation predictor kits
  • Trying out saliva kits for ovulation
  • Charting your fertility with basal body temperature
  • Examining your cervical mucus
  • Looking out for your body's natural signs of ovulation, such as ovulation pain and tender breasts.

  • Photo courtesy of 123rf (stock photos)
  • Photo courtesy of 123rf (stock photos)

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