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Trying To Conceive? Read These Tips…

Having tried for a baby for several years, author Lyn Sharkey knows a thing or two about trying to conceive.

She shares some vital tips and advice for couples about to embark on a similar journey.

So you have decided that you are ready to have a baby. How exciting! With the benefit of my hindsight, I would love to pass on some useful tips that will boost your health and give you the best chance of success.

I understand that once you have decided that you want a baby, you feel that it has to happen immediately, and even a month can seem like an eternity. However, you will need to take three months to build up your folic acid intake, so while this is happening, I would suggest you also incorporate a few simple measures, which might save you time in the long run.

1. You and your partner can both start taking conception supplements. Many of us now know that folic acid is important, but there are other vitamins and minerals which are also essential for you and your future baby’s health. There are several on the market now and are tailored for men and women. The female versions will include folic acid and the ones for men will include zinc, which is vital for sperm health.

2. Charting your cycle is really important and gives you vital information, such as the length of your cycle, when your fertile period is, when you ovulate, how long your luteal phase is (from ovulation to menstruation should be at least 11 days and ideally 14), and how regular your cycle is. Obviously, knowing your fertile period gives you the best chance of conceiving as quickly as possible. Contrary to popular opinion, we do not all ovulate day 14-16 (it can happen as early as day 8 or as late as day 22), but the other details are also important. For example, if your luteal phase is too short, this can indicate that your progesterone levels are too low, as was the case with me. You can chart your cycle using several methods, and you should pick the one best suited to yourself: a. Basal temperature method (at rest, temperature taken as soon as you wake up) b. Saliva ovulation test (our Maybe Baby re-usable test is a mini microscope that can be used every day to chart by testing your saliva for oestrogen surges. Our website, www.maybebabyovulation.com, also has charts you can download) c. Mid-stream urine test (tests for surges in luteinizing hormone at time of ovulation) d. Cervical mucus test (the presence of slippery and stretchy cervical mucus indicates your fertile period). 

3. Remember also that you should start trying to conceive 3-5 days before ovulation, as this will maximise your chances. Sperm can actually survive for up to 5 days in the womb!

4. Nutrition Is hugely important. As I have had serious problems with food intolerances, I am inclined to suggest that everyone should visit a nutritionist. Fatigue is a common feature of modern life, but this has been eradicated from mine by eating the right food for my body. I would really recommend eating lots of fruit and vegetables, and as many non-processed foods, and as little sugar, as possible.

5. Cutting down on caffeine can only help your overall health, as it can inhibit the supply of oxygen to your blood cells. You could cut out coffee and swap every second cup of tea to herbal or decaffeinated.

6. It would be a good idea to visit your GP for a health check, which would include a blood test. You should arrange this for 7 days after ovulation, so that your hormone levels can be checked. Why wait until there is a problem to get checked out? After all, we send our cars in for services regularly to make sure we are safe on the road. I firmly believe that we should take as much care with our own health.

7. Gentle exercise is also great for keeping the blood flowing.

8. Reduce stress as much as possible.

9. It goes without saying that if you are a smoker, you should stop, and alcohol should be avoided as soon as you think you might be pregnant. At this point, you can relax in the knowledge that you are doing all you can, and you might very well conceive quickly. Try not to be too impatient (I know it’s hard) and enjoy your sleep now. Wishing you the very best of luck, healthy babies and lots of happiness. Lyn Lyn Sharkey is author of The Baby Wait: Lessons Learned While Trying to Become a Mum (Orpen Press, €15, out now) and is a director of two companies, one of which distributes the Maybe Baby Saliva Ovulation Test in Ireland.

As always, we would love to hear your opinions. Please leave a comment below.


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