A healthy pregnancy requires collective measures of healthy lifestyle, adequate precautions, avoiding all that is bad for the body, giving the body the adequate dose of nutrients it deserves and most of all, resting the body adequately every now and then to ensure effective energy being stored and utilized appropriately.
It should also be remembered that while planning to get pregnant or thinking of starting a family seems thrilling, the process takes time and one should be patient enough to endure however or whatever much it takes to do so. If the woman is in her mid to late twenties, pregnancies are comparatively easy and faster. However, as soon as she reaches 30, the rates start going downhill, with women over 30 having a twenty percent chance of becoming pregnant every month, more so if she is above 35, the rates fall further.
In attempts to try and get pregnant, there are certain tweaks which might help in getting pregnant. It is no myth that a healthy and balanced lifestyle are the keys to sort out every problem in life, however a few extra precautions might just help one conceive in their desired frame of time. Common ways to increase chances of getting pregnant include,
- Making a plan and acting accordingly: Planning to control the birth-control measures taken so far, taking care of one’s own health, making a plan to visit the doctor (obstetrician / gynaecologist) for routine check-ups, planning to shift to a healthier lifestyle are some of the very basic mental notes one can take in order to proceed towards a healthy pregnancy. Planning the necessary finances also forms a major part of family-planning as there would be a new member in the family who would be needing additional care that comes with a price tag as well!
- Recording one’s menstrual cycle carefully, with special reference to ovulation period. One can maintain an ovulation tracker as well, to keep track of the exact time by which an egg would be released by the ovaries. This is more convenient if she has regular periods. However, in some cases periods may be irregular implying varying cycle lengths from month to month. Ovulation in these cases can be tracked manually or using ovulation kits which measure the amount of leuteinizing hormone (LH) whose levels increase every month during ovulation until the ovaries release an egg. As per research reports from the American Pregnancy Association, a woman's egg is fertile for only 12 to 24 hours after its release, but a man's sperm can survive in a woman's body for up to five to seven days. Hence, having regular intercourse during the projected ovulation period increases a woman’s chances of conceiving. On the other hand, keeping a pregnancy test in hand is also advisable so that one can check at the slightest doubt of a missed period and get proper medical attention from the very beginning.
- Checking the amount of cervical mucus released through the vagina is another way to ensure that ovulation is in progress and that it would be ideal for her to indulge in sexual intercourse with her partner. Just before ovulation when a woman is at her fertile best, the amount of mucus increases and it also becomes thinner, clearer and more slippery, hence allowing the sperm to make way to the egg. Since the "fertile window" is a six-day affair, with the five days prior to ovulation and the ovulation day itself, having regular intercourse helps in increasing one’s chances of getting pregnant.
- Maintaining an ideal body weight is also crucial to a healthy pregnancy. Being too heavy can reduce a woman's odds of conceiving. An overweight woman might take twice as long to become pregnant than a woman whose BMI is considered normal, as per research. It is even more difficult for an underweight woman who is likely to take four times as long to conceive. Excess body fat produces excess estrogen, which can interfere with ovulation. Losing 5 to 10 percent of body weight before trying to get pregnant could improve fertility, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Aiming for even 30 minutes of exercise that gets the heart pumping on most days is bound to go a long way. Walking, bicycling, and swimming are great ways to get a workout, apart from joining a prenatal exercise class. All these exercises eventually help to make the muscles flexible and increase stamina, so that when the mother is actually bearing the child, there’s more body strength to combat the extra weight gained. It is to be always remembered that when it comes to pregnancy, maintaining a healthy weight is the goal, not being too skinny nor being too ignorant about the weighing scale either! People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for many serious conditions, including complications during pregnancy, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon). People who are underweight are also at risk for serious health problems. The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is not about short-term dietary changes. It is a slow and steady, progressive shift in lifestyle choices that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity. If one is underweight, overweight, or obese, one should talk with the doctor about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before getting pregnant.
- Keeping stress at bay would be one of the best options to ensure a pregnancy. Excess cortisol (stress hormone) can mess with the reproductive hormones and cause unnecessary complications.
- Diet matters! Mothers-to-be should aim to try to get at least 2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables every day, as well as plenty of whole grains and foods that are high in calcium – like milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, and yogurt. Eating a variety of protein sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, soy products, poultry, and meats is also useful in building muscles and keeping the stomach satiated. Taking folic acid is specially recommended. Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least 1 month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. Reducing the caffeine intake and limiting caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams per day, about the amount in one cup of coffee, depending on the brew is a good goal to aim for in the beginning of the preparatory / pre-pregnancy phase.
- Avoiding smoking and excess alcohol consumption are a must for improving chances of pregnancy.
- Avoiding intense and strenuous workouts can help in conceiving. Moderate activity for four to five days a week is good enough to maintain a healthy body weight. Intense workouts often cause menstrual disturbances in women, and these women are often advised to cut back on their workouts when planning for pregnancy.
- Taking a prenatal vitamin, especially a B complex vitamin (folic acid) is prescribed for some women planning to get pregnant, in order to ensure that the baby is free from birth-defects when born.
- Avoiding substances like lubricants which kill sperm motility are best avoided. Similar for anything that gets the body temperature rising, like hot water baths and sauna, which hamper the sperm quality and might kill them before they reach the egg.