For those of us trying to conceive while our biological clock is ticking, we don’t have the luxury of waiting this pandemic out. We are forced to forge ahead hoping that by the time our due date emerges, this health crisis will have settled down. Here are some things we can do to get our bodies in the best possible shape for pregnancy.
1. Take a multivitamin. Go ahead and start a prenatal vitamin right away.
2. Get out and exercise. A three-mile walk or run will do your body and your brain good. Exercise can lower your stress level, acting like a natural anti-depressant. Avoid high intensity workouts and look for low to medium daily activities to add to your routine.
3. Folic Acid. Take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day – from before you’re pregnant until you’re 12 weeks pregnant is recommended. If it is not in your multivitamin, take it separately.
4. Get vitamin D into your system. Especially if you live in the Pacific Northwest, I can almost guarantee you’re not getting enough vitamin D. Taking 2000 IU a day is safe or you can get a blood test through your primary care doctor for personalized dosage recommendations.
5. Iron is also a good addition if you tend to be anemic. Iron supplements can cause constipation, but a great source of Iron is Floradix. This safe, all natural, low dose, liquid iron supplement is formulated from flowers and vegetables and is gentle on your digestive tract. Floradix also includes B6 and B12. Careful, too much iron can be harmful so you’ll want your bloodwork to see if you need to increase your iron.
6. Maintain a healthy weight. Being either underweight or overweight can affect your ovulation cycles and make it harder to get pregnant. While a good goal is to have your BMI (Body Mass Index) between 19-30, your overall health goal can be implementing life-long good diet and exercise habits. To improve your chances of getting pregnant, try to lose weight if you’re overweight and gain weight if you’re underweight. Even a small adjustment can have a positive impact on your fertility.
7. Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine can negatively affect female fertility. One study suggests that women who consume over 500 mg of caffeine daily take up to 9.5 months longer to get pregnant (PubMed). A high caffeine intake before pregnancy is also linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21636205).
8. Drink less alcohol. Alcohol consumption can negatively affect fertility. However, it’s unclear how much alcohol is needed to cause this effect. A large observational study found that drinking more than 8 drinks per week was associated with a longer time to get pregnant. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9113254.)
9. Drink plenty of water from glass or stainless steel. Water keeps all your organs and cells functioning properly including the reproductive cells (egg, sperm) and reproductive organs (brain, ovaries, uterus, testes, thyroid). It also naturally flushes out toxins in the body. For men, semen production and semen volume can be reduced by not drinking enough water.
Avoid plastic bottles! Even if they’re BPA-free. BPA (bisphenol-A) mimics estrogen, and therefore can have estrogenic effects in the body causing infertility including low sperm quality. BPA increases aneuploidy, a defect consisting of abnormal loss or gain of chromosomes, which could lead to miscarriages or disorders such as Down Syndrome. Note: some of the chemicals that are in the BPA-free plastics actually have been found to have greater estrogenic activity than BPA itself.
10. Eat like you’re already pregnant. Dietary suggestions include eating antioxidant rich foods, like raspberries and blueberries. Dark leafy greens and beets are also full of nutrients.
11. Cut the sugar. For women, a high dietary intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates is associated with a significantly increased risk of ovulatory infertility. Insulin resistance in women is also associated with impaired follicle and egg cell development, implantation failure, and poor embryo development.
Elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance are also problematic for male fertility. Research shows that higher levels of carbohydrate and sugar in the diet are associated with reductions in sperm concentration and motility.
12. Take CoQ10. This supplement can help your body repair from free radical damage caused by our environment and gives mitochondria, the powerhouse of our cells, a rejuvenating boost. Think of it as an anti-aging supplement. We recommend you take 800 mg a day while trying to conceive and stop once you know you’re pregnant.
13. Zinc up. Zinc supports fertility by regulating normal hormone function, cell division and ovulation. Our bodies don’t store zinc, so it is important women wanting to become pregnant receive the recommended daily allowance of 8mg.
14. Fish oil provides omega-3s, which are a wonderful anti-inflammatory supplement that is also good for baby’s brain and eye development. Unless you are eating high quality, low-mercury fish several times a week, you are likely not getting enough omega-3s for ideal preconception.
15. Magnesium. While not necessary for conception, this supplement fights stress and we know focusing on fertility can be stressful. CALM powder can help you get a good night’s sleep if taken before bed.
16. Beauty Sleep. Sleep plays a vital role in overall health as well as fertility. Getting a good night’s sleep helps refresh and restore your brain and organ systems and regulate important hormones in your body – including fertility-related hormones.
17. Master Yoga. Yoga is a gentle exercise that’s perfect for your body and mind. It can help tone all of your muscles without stressing them.
18. Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts for the day. Plan your future and release excess anxiety. Words have power and writing down your goals and the steps you’re taking to achieve them, can help bring your desires to fruition.
19. Track your ovulation. Temperature charts have come a long way. Today there are apps and gadgets to track your ovulation so you time your intimacy on the right days.
20. Visualization. Maybe you believe in this sort of thing and maybe you don’t, but it is worth a try not just for fertility but for all of your life goals. Picture what you want and allow yourself to feel the way you’ll feel once you have it. Grab a pillow (or your cat) and pour love into it as though it is your future baby. Focus on joy and allow that love to set up shop in your womb. Be careful not to focus on your desire to have a baby. Focus on loving a baby right now as if it is already in your arms.
With frequent unprotected sex, most healthy couples conceive within one year.
If you’re younger than 35 and you and your partner are in good health, try for one year before consulting a doctor. However, if you’re age 35 or older, or one of you has known or suspected fertility issues, we advise seeking the help of a fertility specialist after six months. Overlake Reproductive Health has been helping people become parents for over 27 years and has some of the highest success rates in the country. Focus on these health tips and improving your odds – but don’t hesitate to seek out the help of a licensed professional when you’re ready. We have appointments available now. Call 425-646-4700 to schedule.