After years of practicing birth control, it can be quite the mind shift to actually invite pregnancy. Letting go of the pill can be kind of scary. Because no one really prepares you for this phase, it is OK if you don’t know how to get pregnant in the safest and most effective way possible. There may be more to it than just letting nature take its course.
Really understanding the basics of ovulation, your basal body temperature, and even basic lifestyle choices can help increase your chances of conception. Yes, this is all the legitimately helpful stuff you probably didn’t learn about in sex ed. But there are quite a few basic things to know about getting pregnant that can help make your journey to conception much easier. Because there may be a little more to it than just having sex all the time — although that will likely help your cause.
So when you and your SO are trying to conceive, here are some science-backed tips to help you out. There are easy ways to maximize your fertility and make your chances of getting pregnant even better. And don’t worry: tracking your ovulation with a calendar is pretty simple. (You can even get ovulation tracking apps for your phone.)
1Watch The Calendar
If you've recently ditched the Pill or other hormonal methods of birth control, your body will soon return to its natural cycle, and you can keep track of it on a calendar. "If you’re trying to get pregnant, understanding the timing of your cycle can be critical, as well," Everyday Health notes. "Because ovulation generally occurs 14 days before the start of your period, it’s important to know what day your period is supposed to begin." Keeping count can help you know the most effective time to have sex.
Knowing when you're most fertile can be extremely helpful. As the Mayo Clinic noted, "over-the-counter ovulation kits can identify the most likely time of ovulation or even provide a signal before ovulation actually happens." Unless you're one of the women who can actually feel ovulation, a test may be the only way to know for sure when this is happening.
3Track Basal Body Temperature
Tracking your temperature every day is another way to predict ovulation. It will be pretty consistent most of the time. "As you approach ovulation, you may notice a slight decline, but it will be followed by a sharp increase after ovulation," according to the American Pregnancy Association. "The increase in temperature is the sign that ovulation has just occurred." Once your basal temperature starts heating up, it's time to make a baby.
4Have Frequent Sex
Pregnancy is all about timing. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly all pregnancies can be attributed to intercourse during a six-day period ending on the day of ovulation." And as this study's senior author, Dr. Allen Wilcox, said in Redbook, "couples who had intercourse every other day during their fertile days still had very high odds of conceiving." So going at it every other day — or more if possible — during your ovulation window is a great idea.
5Chill After Intercourse
No, you don't have to put your feet in the air. "It's good advice to lay in bed for 10 to 15 minutes after intercourse," James Goldfarb, director of the infertility service at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, told WebMD. This gives the sperm time to get into the cervix.
6Stop Drinking Alcohol
Wait, you might need to stop drinking before you're pregnant? Well, possibly. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, heavy levels of drinking can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant. You don't have to go totally straight edge, but cutting way back might be a good call.
Easier said than done, right? But a 2010 study in the Fertility and Sterility journal found that women who went through a mind body program had a higher fertility rate than a control group; therefore, "it is possible that a moderate level of stress prior to cycle start is beneficial as long as patients have the opportunity to learn stress-reduction skills." It might be time to get back to your yogic breathing.