Trying to conceive and have a baby is a lot of work for many people. We wish, hope and pray every month for that little sign to turn positive, for our period to be late and for that burst of life to finally be on its way. For others, making a baby is way too easy and makes the rest of us look bad just because it was so easy for them.
Regardless, many of us do everything right or as much right as we can, and we still don’t get that positive pregnancy sign that we want so badly. The longer we go without a baby, the more doubts that creep in and have us wondering what is wrong with us that we can’t make a baby. The pressures and stress we then put ourselves under don’t really help the process at all, and we end up exhausting ourselves and wasting time looking up odd remedies and old wives’ tales.
To help troubleshoot this tricky time, here are a few mistakes we might be unknowingly making that could be preventing the successful result that we really want. And it’s all gathered in one neat little list to make it easier to print out and obsess over. You’re welcome.
20 The Ticking Of The Clock
We’ll start with a fairly obvious one. Age plays a strong factor in the success of pregnancy and reproduction. Of course, most of us know that which is why we’re trying so hard to have a baby, but it’s not just mom’s age we’re looking at. Dad’s age counts, too.
According to Medical News Today, “Researchers in France studying over 12,000 couples with fertility problems found that when the man was over 35 pregnancy rates fell and perhaps more surprisingly, miscarriage rates rose, leading them to conclude that the age of the father was just as important as the age of the mother in reaching a successful pregnancy.”
19 Excessive Exercise
Exercising is one of those healthy things we are all supposed to do more of, but when it comes to making a baby, it can delay or even prevent pregnancy which isn’t something we want to hear. Moderate light exercise is fine but excessive and intense exercise can be harmful, causing disruptions in our cycles and problems with implantation of the fertilized egg.
According to Fitness Mercola, “It's long been known that strenuous exercise can cause disturbances to a woman's monthly cycle, leading to a lack of ovulation and menses, along with other fertility problems. This is particularly common among competitive female athletes and marathon runners.”
18 Know Your Nutrients
Most of us know that when we are trying to conceive, we should be taking our prenatal and doing everything we can to get healthy. What most of us don’t know is that actually taking the vitamins won’t help us conceive. They just make a considerably healthier environment for the baby when we do conceive, so if we miss a day, we don’t need to panic.
According to The Bump, moms need to intake plenty of folate to make sure their babies are starting out strong. That means taking those vitamins with L-methylfolate before conception ever occurs—and not waiting until the stick shows two pink lines.
17 All The Sweets
Most of us have a sweet tooth to some degree and frequently indulge in our favorites. But not everyone knows that high levels of sugar lurk in everyday foods which we consume and that these high sugar levels can affect our fertility.
So maybe cutting back on juice, soda, cake and white bread for awhile would be a good idea. According to Fit Pregnancy, “What people tend to agree on is avoiding soda and fruit juice. They're both very high in sugar, they raise blood sugar very quickly and that can have a negative impact on fertility. It's also a good idea to eliminate trans fats from your diet, too, as consuming too much has been linked to infertility.”
16 I’m So Stressed!
When we tell people we are trying for a baby, they all say, “Just relax and let it happen.” Not exactly helpful, especially when we are stressed out for various reasons like work, family matters or trying to conceive a baby (who will later cause us considerable stress). Extremely high levels of stress are unhealthy whether we’re trying to conceive or not.
According to Very Well Family, “While stress alone does not seem to cause infertility, stress can push us toward unhealthy behaviors and un-baby-making-friendly lifestyles. These unhealthy behaviors can affect our fertility.”
Maybe we do need that relaxing bath after all.
15 Oh, Caffeine
Most of us know that caffeine is likely a no-no in pregnancy but not all of us know that it can affect our fertility chances, especially if we consume it in excess every day. We’ll have to add those three cups of coffee and after lunch, a latte treat to the long list of sacrifices we’ll make for baby’s sake.
Printing this list out as an 18th birthday present is a nice idea. According to The Bump, “Other things to keep in mind: Ease up on the caffeine (studies show it affects your ability to absorb iron, a key pre-natal nutrient) and try to curb that artificial sweeteners habit now (hey, you’ll have to once the baby comes anyway).”
14 Daddy Matters, Too
Similar to taking the father’s age into consideration, we also need to consider his overall health as a contributing factor to our success in getting pregnant. From his specimen count and quality to overall health and support for the anticipated pregnancy, dad plays a huge often overlooked role in fertility success.
It helps to have him checked out too and not let his health be taken for granted. Putting him on a baby-making diet is a good idea too. As CNN puts it, “There's more to pre-conception health for men—the impact of men's health on subsequent pregnancies—than the quality of their [contribution].”
13 Bye Bye, Bad Habits
We all know that once that stick turns pink, we have got to start shaping up and getting our lives on a healthier track. But not all of us consider that some of our habits, like smoking, can affect actually getting pregnant. So if mom or dad-to-be is still doing such while trying to conceive, we should put an end to that now before the baby is on board. It will be easier to do now than when the baby is on the way and we’re dealing with hormones.
As The Bump relays, it's pretty much common sense these days that trying to get pregnant and engaging in bad habits like partying with certain substances do not go hand-in-hand kindly.
12 In The Medicine Cabinet
One thing we might not think about when we are trying to conceive is what is in our medicine cabinet. More specifically, if the medications we are currently taking are affecting our fertility in any negative ways. They just might be. It’s a good idea to tell our doctor about our fertility goals and have a second look at our medications while trying to conceive.
As Parents puts it, “Because a woman's menstrual cycle is tightly controlled by the interaction between the brain, ovaries, and uterus, any health problem or medication that disrupts this communication could adversely affect ovulation and make it challenging for women to achieve a pregnancy.”
11 I’ll Just Have One
Giving up libations for nine months is one of the more un-fun things about becoming pregnant. But some of us don’t know that consuming those adult beverages excessively while trying to conceive can affect the desired outcome.
Cutting back (but not completely since we’re still responsible adults) is a good idea at this stage, as well as upping our water intake ¾ of which we should do anyway. According to Fit Pregnancy, it's best to skip the libations after you've ovulated, and also nudge the hopeful-dad-to-be to scale back, too.
10 Wait, What Day Is It?
Many of us have heard of the Fertility Awareness Method, and we have learned how to track our cycles to help conceive or prevent conception, but for those of us with irregular cycles or bad follow-through on tracking things, actually pinning down the fertile day of the month can be tricky. This often leads to miscalculations that can delay getting pregnant.
A good Bullet Journal, thermometer, and calendar can help with that. According to The Bump, “So in order to figure out the exact day you ovulated, you’d actually need to count back 14 days from the day you started your period. If your cycle’s fairly regular, though, you can use this technique to estimate when ovulation happens each month.”
That said, if it's not, or if you have a luteal phase that is more or less than 14 days, you need to know how long it is for the method to work for you. It's pretty simple, but don't assume everyone is a 28-day cycle, 14-day luteal phase kind of girl. You might not be.
9 What Is In My Fish?
Many of us enjoy fish of all varieties, and we know that once we are pregnant, sushi and high mercury fish is odd the menu till baby arrives. But some of those high mercury fish should be reduced to a weekly treat even before we get that positive sign, to help encourage a healthy welcoming environment in which to grow baby.
As Fit Pregnancy advises us, “If you like fish and eat a fair amount, cut back on your consumption of high-mercury fish (tuna halibut, swordfish) three months before starting to get pregnant.”
Nixing the bottom-feeding fish like tilapia and any farmed fish is an ideal choice, too. You can add this to the sacrifices list for baby.
8 All Dried Up
If we’ve been trying for awhile to get pregnant with no success, we might find ourselves a bit dry down below and reaching for something to help slick things up. The lubricants that we then apply can affect the swimmers' performance and can further delay getting pregnant, creating something of a vicious cycle if we aren’t aware of the problem.
As Very Well Family confirms in their study of lubricants, “Difficulty with ... dryness is twice as common in trying to conceive couples than in the general population. Also, problems like ... dryness tend to increase the longer a couple is seeking to get pregnant.”
7 The Latest Fad Diets
So our New Year’s resolutions list might have included Get Pregnant, Exercise More and Try A New Diet on it, but timing those for the same month might not be a good idea. Some fad diets can actually harm our chances of conception which we’ll want to avoid if we’re serious about this whole baby thing.
As The Sun puts it, fad diets “can also starve your body of vital nutrients and vitamins, or encourage an unhealthy amount of weight loss, which both impact your fertility. Some diets even over-stimulate you with caffeine, which can cause problems conceiving and damage your baby before they are even born.”
6 One Down, One More?
Sometimes after we’ve had one baby successfully, we decide to have another one to balance things out or get that opposite gender or remind ourselves why we originally decided on just one baby. But after a year or more of trying with no success, we get puzzled and wonder what’s up. It turns out it is a condition known as Secondary Infertility which occurs after we’ve already had one or more babies.
That’s definitely not what we were expecting to hear. As Parenting tells us, “In fact, according to RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, secondary infertility accounts for more than half of all infertility cases.”
5 Frequency Of Intimacy
Most of us know that picking the right day during the month is crucial to successfully achieve pregnancy. So logically, to up our chances of actually getting pregnant, we might try to fill every night of that week with a little action. This can actually backfire on us, as The Bump points out. “Believe it or not, too much [fun between the sheets] can decrease your man’s [swimmer] count, which can then take a few days to rebound.”
Plus we’ll probably wear him out and then he’ll be useless for all the housework we want him to do. Best shoot for every other day and sneak some vitamins into his morning smoothie.
4 High Expectations
By now we know that stress, adult beverages, and caffeine can affect our chances of getting pregnant. But so do our expectations. When we don’t get that positive sign after our mental set time, we get antsy as our expectations take a blow. Parenthood will wash the remaining expectations down the drain anyway, so we might as well relax and let most of them go in this process.
According to Huffington Post, “It wasn’t until about a month into being a mother that I realized that the expectations I was creating were actually holding me back. Every expectation I set was keeping me from enjoying the present moment.”
3 Position, Position, Position
When we’re trying to conceive, we might mix things up in the bedroom, or we might rigidly stick to one tried-and-true position. Both of these are essentially fine (although mixing it up favors better than the rigid one position routine for enjoyment factors).
The problem occurs when we begin to obsess about the positions and lose sight of the fun and goal which we’re trying to achieve.
According to The Bump, “So if you want to do it missionary-style or prop a pillow under your hips, go right ahead—but don’t stress yourself out about it too much. Your odds of getting pregnant hinge on many more factors than just mere positioning.”
2 Douche A Little
Actually, avoid douching at all if pregnancy is on our minds. Douching isn’t even a good idea for cleaning the baby’s potential exit but some people still haven’t figured this out and douching is still widely used. If we’re planning on a baby, lay off the douching and take a nice bubble bath instead, preferably with our man. That should spice things up a bit.
According to Very Well Family, “According to one study, women who used ... douches were 30 percent less likely to conceive in any given month when compared to women who did not douche.”
1 Put That Back
Finally, just in case there is anyone left wondering about this; to get pregnant, ditch the barrier methods. Plus, it will feel a lot better without a bit of latex getting in the way which might help convince the potential daddy to get on board with the idea.
As The Bump puts it, “It’s obvious you need to quit your method of birth control in order to get pregnant. What’s not so obvious is that, depending on what form you’re using, fertility doesn’t necessarily return right away. With barrier methods, like [rubbers], upping your chance of getting pregnant is as easy as leaving them in your nightstand drawer.”