Trying to conceive can be a confusing time in a woman’s life. Many of us have spent so many years trying so hard not to get pregnant, and now we’re learning just how hard it can be to actually see that glorious plus sign on the pregnancy test.
We’re in month two of trying for baby, and while I know we have only just begun to try, I’m already doing everything I can to make sure we get pregnant. I’ve been charting everything I can track to stay on target, and the more I learn, the more amazed at the female body I become. After only two months in, I have learned that we aren’t told even half of what we need to know about our own bodies when we’re growing up! I had no idea what we could take charge of, simply by knowing our bodies just a little bit better. So what’s the haps then? Let’s have a basic learning course, shall we?
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
Ovulation can occur at any point in a woman’s cycle, and pin pointing the time right before your ovulation is crucial in trying to get pregnant. Here’s what you should be charting to better understand when your peak fertility days are.
Chart Your Basal Body Temperature
This is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning. To track this, you need to make sure that you’re using a proper basal thermometer, or one that shows your temps in .10th of a degree. (ex. 98.3, 96.6)
First thing, at the same time every morning, reach over and grab your thermometer. Keep it near your bedside so you don’t have to get up to find it. Don’t even sit up. Just gently reach for it, pop it into your mouth, and lie still until it records. Moving around can increase your temp, and you want to get a reading as close to your basal as possible. Chart this number down.
There’s a common misunderstanding about tracking this temperature. Some think that they’re waiting for the perfect temp to try for baby, but in reality, once your temp spikes, signaling that you’ve ovulated, it’s too late to try! Once the egg is released, the baby making sex is over for the month. You don’t use these numbers to find out when you’re going to ovulate. You use these numbers to help find out when you ovulated.
Why am I charting this?
Keeping track of this number will help show you when you have ovulated. As the body prepares to ovulate, the LH hormone is released into the system. Once ovulation occurs, your basal temp will jump up at least a half of a degree. This marks the beginning of your luteal phase, which is the time between ovulation and your next period. Learning to read the fluctuations in your basal body temperature will help you understand when you’ve ovulated, help you find out if you’re pregnant (often before a home pregnancy test will confirm!) and can offer a wealth of other knowledge about your own fertility.
Chart Your Cervical Fluid
Cervical Fluid is naturally created in your body. This is the medium your body creates to host the sperm and keep it alive. At your most fertile point in your cycle, your cervical fluid should be slippery and stretchy, like egg whites. Here’s a handy chart of photos to help you better understand what you’re looking for.
Why am I charting this?
Your peak fertility is most easily known by the structure and feel of your cervical fluid. Charting this information every day will tell you when the best times to try for baby are.
Use an Ovulation Predictor Kit
OPK’s are useful tools. Used properly, these test packs can help you pinpoint your most fertile times, taking the guesswork out of when try for baby. The kits work in the same manner as a home pregnancy test, in that you test by inserting the tip of the kit into your urine stream. It’s always best to try and use your first morning urine, but for those who choose to test twice a day, just be sure to test around the same time of day.
Why would I test twice a day?
The length of the LH surge signaling ovulation varies from person to person. For some women, it can happen in as little as ten hours. As such, if you are testing every morning, you may miss your ovulation altogether. If using OPKs were your only method of tracking, this would get very expensive! However, when used as simply another tool in a full TTC arsenal, OPK’s can be a valuable asset.
What should I know about them?
OPK’s are reliable tools, but like any test, they can fail. User error can cause false readings, or the temperature of storage during transport may alter the test results. This is why OPK’s should not be used as the sole form of ovulation prediction! However, when used with other methods, I find these tools to be very useful.
Ok, Great, but How Do I Put it All Together?
Go out and pick yourself up a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler, MPH. This is the end all, be all of all things fertile. With this book, those seeking to get pregnant can use the same information gathered about her own body to optimize her chances of conceiving. On the flip side, women trying to prevent pregnancy can learn how to safely manage her own fertility options WITHOUT the use of potentially harmful birth control drugs. This book will teach you everything you need to know about your own body, how to chart and manage your fertility options and when/how to look for potential fertility problems.
The website linked above also has free printouts for charting! I can’t recommend this method of charting enough- it covers everything you could possibly need to know about your own fertility cycle.
Personally, I have a little toiletries bag that holds all of my fertility monitoring info. It holds my prenatal vitamins, my OPK’s, pregnancy tests, basal thermometer and charting sheets. This way, I always have everything I need in one organized spot. As an added bonus, the bags with the built-in slots to hold makeup brushes are perfect for keeping all of those little test strips in line.
So… What About the Baby Sex?
Having baby sex (what I like to call the sex during your most fertile phase of your cycle) too often can actually decrease your chances of conception. As we only have anywhere from an 18-25% chance of getting pregnant each cycle, it’s important to make sure you’re timing your baby sex correctly. You should limit the baby making sessions to at least once a day, or once every other day during this part of your cycle. There is no proven position or method of sex that will increase your chances. Standing on your head will not make it easier for the sperm to find your egg. They know what they’re doing, so just lie still and cuddle afterwards.
Sometimes couples can get in a baby sex rut. They focus solely on the physical act of baby making, forgetting all of the reasons they wanted to start a family in the first place. It’s very important that you continue to have sex, love your partner and honor your commitment as you try for baby. Having sex only during your peak times in the hopes of having a child is not healthy. Remember that you chose this person to be a parent to your future child, and that means loving them- body, heart and soul- through every stage of your cycle.
When Should I Seek Fertility Help?
If you have been using these methods for at least a year (or 9 months, if the woman is over 35 years old) with no success, it may be time to talk to your doctor about your options. There are many fertility treatment options available to men and women today, so don’t hesitate to ask if you’ve been unsuccessful in starting your new family!