Congratulations! You’ve decided to have a baby and that’s a very exciting time of your life. But remember, making a baby can take time. So be patient, especially when your friends seem to constantly be sharing their good news and the in-laws are asking, ‘Are you pregnant yet?’ every time they see you. Often, after years of painstaking birth control, it can be a tough realization that getting pregnant when you finally want to isn’t as easy as you thought it would be. Here are a few questions to ask your doctor when you are ready to conceive:
1. How long should it take for me to get pregnant? This depends on a great number of factors. But realize that making a baby takes time, often up to 12 months. If you’ve been trying for longer than a year, see your doctor to begin an infertility evaluation. If you’re older than 35, it can take longer because of aging impact on your eggs, so start your evaluation after 6 months if you have not conceived . Don’t panic, try to be patient and have fun in the process. After all, stress will only exacerbate the challenge.
2. How much will my age really affect my chances? The chances of a woman naturally having a baby after age 35 decline by about 50 percent, and they decline by about 90 percent after age 40. So if having a baby is in your future plans, get started sooner rather than later. If you’re under 35, see an infertility expert after one year of trying without success. If you’re 35 or more, see an infertility expert if you don’t conceive naturally within six months. If you’re over 38, be seen after 3 months of unsuccessful trying. Though conceiving after 40 may be difficult, it’s not impossible, so ask your doctor what else you can do.
3. Should I take prenatal vitamins? What kind? Yes. Eating healthy will raise your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy (that means cutting out the junk food and loading up on greens), and prenatal vitamins help fill in any holes in the mother’s diet. Ask your doctor to recommend a good prenatal vitamin with calcium and lots of B6 when you first start thinking about having a baby. Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System is one of the few prenatals that has enough vitamin B6, which has been shown to increase fertility. Also, take an Omega-3 fish oil. Look for those with a higher mg of DHA and EPA.
4. Does timing matter? You’re best bet is try to conceive just before and during ovulation, which happens anywhere from 13 to 20 days before your period. I recommend using an ovulation predictor kit to time intercourse. Then, have sex a few days leading up to and on the day of ovulation. Remember that sperm can live up to 6 days in your body, but your egg can only survive 12 to 24 hours. This timing gives you the best odds of the sperm and egg meeting. To be sure you’re getting the timing right, pick up a ClearBlue fertility monitor to help you map your fertility calendar. Use a digital thermometer, which is much faster and easier to use than a standard one, for basal temperature measurements. And to keep you on track, use a journal to keep track as a personal conception and pregnancy organizer.
5. Can I use a lubricant? If having timed relations is affecting your ability to be intimate, a lubricant is a great option. But many lubricants may actually negatively affect sperm motility. Try Pre-Seed. It’s the only FDA-cleared, clinically shown ‘Fertility-Friendly’ Lubricant developed by doctors and used by fertility clinics. Use the applicator to apply it near the cervix. Its pH balanced to match fertile cervical mucus as well as the pH of sperm, so it won’t harm your chances of conceiving.
6. When should I take a pregnancy test? And which one should I use? Home pregnancy tests work by detecting levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), that is produced during pregnancy. These tests can only detect hCG after implantation occurs, which is generally 10 days post-ovulation (dpo). But don’t freak out if a test comes up negative at 10 dpo, since it’s not an exact science and you may still get pregnant up to 15 dpo. 15 dpo is when a woman who is not pregnant will typically get her period, so it’s the ‘first day of a missed period.’
First Response Early Result is the only pregnancy test that can detect pregnancy up to 6 days before your missed period (9 dpo). That’s one day sooner than any other home pregnancy test in the market.
Gloria Richard-Davis, MD, from the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is an educator and Educator author of Planning Parenthood.