How can I increase my chances of getting pregnant?
There is a link between reproductive success and general health:
All of the boring advice your parents and GP regularly give applies when trying to have a baby. If you or your partner have ongoing chronic medical conditions it is important to have these managed optimally.
Smoking reduces the chance of getting pregnant, and it also increases the risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications. What you should also know is that if you smoke, the risk of diseases such as leukaemia increases for your unborn child.
Reduce your alcohol intake:
Reducing or stopping alcohol consumption and avoidance of illicit drugs are important for both men and women. Fathers contribute 50% of the genetic code their babies inherit. Giving your baby the best quality DNA possible is important.
Maintain a healthy body weight:
Maintaining a healthy weight is important. For a lot of couples, even a modest reduction in weight can result in significantly better pregnancy outcomes. It means a higher chance of getting pregnant and a lower risk of having a miscarriage. If you have lost a lot of weight over a short period of time (such as after bariatric surgery), then you will not get the full fertility benefit until you have kept the weight off for a full year. Your body simply needs time to adjust to such a big change.
Luckily, with time, it will become easier for your body to maintain the lower weight. If you are going to need any type of fertility treatment, then experience tells us that a normal weight will improve your chances of success.
A balanced, varied diet high in plant-derived foods is important. The big rise in hormones such as progesterone can cause constipation in pregnant women, and if you have already developed a habit of eating well, you will find it easier to maintain the habit once you fall pregnant.
Food should be freshly prepared, safely stored and reheated well if needed. The risk of Listeria is very low in Australia and yet it is good to be aware of some safe practices when you prepare your meals. It’s common that most people in Australia do not consume the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables.
Recent studies looking at caffeine intake, from all sources, have found a consistent link between the amount of caffeine consumed in pregnancy and increased risk of miscarriage, intrauterine growth restriction, small for gestational age, stillbirth, childhood leukemia and childhood overweight and obesity.
There does not appear to be a safe limit to caffeine consumption so while recently standard advice was that the equivalent of 1-2 coffees per day was okay this is no longer the case and caffeine can be added to alcohol, smoking and illicit drugs as things to avoid in pregnancy.
Supplementing your normal diet with Folic Acid will reduce the risk of Neural Tube Disease in your baby (spina bifida and anencephaly), which means that the baby’s brain and spinal cord do not develop normally. 500mcg of folic acid will reduce the risk of neural tube defects by 50%, 5mg of folic acid, 10x the dose, will reduce the risk by 85%. If there is any personal or family history of Neural Tube Disease then higher doses of folic acid are needed (5mg daily). Australia is Iodine deficient so a supplement also containing Iodine is useful.
The biggest single factor that will determine reproductive success is age. This applies to both men and women, though the effect is more obvious in women. Successful pregnancies are rare for women by 45 years of age. There is often not a perfect time to start a family but if you are in a relationship where children are planned then starting sooner rather than later is almost always best. Hopefully, you will meet your babies earlier and have more time with them!
Why am I not falling pregnant?
If you are wondering why you are not falling pregnant, take a moment to consider this: you are not alone. Falling pregnant for human beings is often not easy. Even the most fertile couples will only have a 25% chance of conceiving each cycle. There are often recognised factors that can reduce this chance; age, weight, smoking, drug and alcohol use and medical illnesses. Social factors are important. You are more likely to conceive in a healthy, supportive, respectful, safe relationship.
Obstetrician and Fertility Specialist
When should I seek help?
"Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common recessive genetic conditions in Caucasian populations, where 1 in 25 people will carry one abnormal CF gene. Couples at risk in this situation have a 25% chance of any and all babies they have being affected. Thankfully there are options available to avoid this risk."