The best way to get pregnant quickly and successfully

Trying to make a baby? Our conception and fertility advice could help you conceive

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    You learned the basics in biology lessons at school. But when you are hoping to conceive, what can you do to maximise the chances of success?

    We’ve waded through all the conflicting advice and spoken to experts and real mums, and now we have the lowdown on how to maximise your chances of conceiving.

  • Know your body’s cycle

    Understanding your body is the first step to successful conception. Every woman is different and a normal menstrual cycle can be between 24 to 36 days, not necessarily the textbook 28. Knowing the length is crucial for working out when ovulation will occur.

    Fertility expert Zita West explains: “The egg is only viable for 24 hours and sperm, if it’s good, can last up to five days inside a woman. It’s important to remember that the window for conception is five days leading up to, and including, the day of ovulation.”


  • Get jiggy

    However, you shouldn’t limit sex to that key time. Experts recommend you should make love at least three times a week throughout your cycle.

    “I think the main thing is not to become too obsessed, it’s best to be spontaneous,” says Zita. “What often happens is couples have no sex for the second part of the cycle, but for sperm to be healthy it needs to be ejaculated frequently.”

    But don’t feel like you have to do it constantly, says Gerad Kite, acupuncturist and fertility expert. “Having sex every day is too demanding for most people, and sperm volume reduces under this strain,” he explains. “Keep the fun and excitement. Remember that a great orgasm will further increase the chance of the sperm finding the egg.”


  • Get in shape

    Weight can affect fertility and is linked to several health complications during pregnancy, so it’s important to be at your physical best.

    “Being under- or overweight can affect your hormonal balance and therefore affect your fertility,” says Zita. Be honest about your size and don’t be afraid to join a slimming club or see a nutritionist for help.

    Check there are no underlying medical factors contributing to your weight, such as thyroid problems, diabetes or polycystic ovaries, which can impact on fertility.

    Get exercising too – it will keep your weight in check, flood your body with essential oxygen and help you relax.


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  • You are what you eat

    The simple rule of thumb is to eat plenty of fruit and veg, and cut back on processed and junk foods, and alcohol, when trying for a baby. Zita also advocates avoiding transfats, which are found in some processed foods: “They increase the amount of free radicals in the body and too many can damage the sperm and eggs.”

    Gerad recommends including protein in every meal, including breakfast, which helps with egg production. “Eat more early in the day and less at night, as this helps with deep, restorative sleep when body cells regenerate. It also helps with the maturation of healthy sperm and eggs,” he says. “Most importantly, always keep  well hydrated – being dehydrated is worse than being malnourished.”


  • Remember to relax

    Couples can feel under pressure when they are trying for a baby and the stress can actually interfere with conception.

    “Stressed people have additional cortisol and adrenaline in their system, which has been shown to affect ovulation,” Zita says. “The
    great thing about the body is it’s always trying to get the balance back, so there are many things you can do, such as breathing exercises, meditation, visualisation and yoga.”

    Gerad advises putting time aside to do activities that make you feel good, like walking the dog, swimming or meeting friends. “Try to stop agonising, worrying and obsessing,” says Gerad.


  • Try an alternative

    Scientific evidence shows that alternative therapies like acupuncture and hypnotherapy can help boost fertility, and many people use them as a way to improve their overall physical and emotional health. “Complementary therapies, as long they are used alongside mainstream medicine, offer support for many women and give them the feeling they are being proactive,” says Zita.

    Gerad, who practices Five-Element acupuncture, says that it can help to restore harmony to the body and mind. “This system does not treat symptoms or fertility directly,” he explains. “Rather, it helps to create a balanced state, which, in turn, is a fertile state.”


  • Man up

    It takes two to make a baby, but men are often left out of the equation when it comes to preparing for conception.

    “It’s thought you only need one sperm to make a baby and a man doesn’t need to do a lot, but it’s the quality of that sperm that is crucial,” says Zita. She recommends getting your man to cut down on smoking and alcohol, and avoid hot baths and jacuzzis, cycling and running long distances, as well as eating a good diet and taking vitamin and mineral supplements.

    Gerard says men need to share responsibility for what is going on. “They need to be available to their partner and stay interested, without creating obsession. Men should woo their partner, keep fit, be sexy and romantic, and initiate sex.”


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  • When to seek medical advice?

    It’s easy to get worried when time passes and nothing happens, but it takes an average of nine months for women under 30 to fall pregnant.

    Gerad says you should allow six months of effort before having any tests. “If there are no diagnosed problems, keep the focus on being well on all levels and having regular sex, and be patient,” she advises.

    Zita believes you should take your age into account. “If you are 38 or 39, you should give yourself just three or four months before getting checked out.”


    Your Pregnancy Companion, by Zita West and The Art of Baby-Making, an Apple iBook by Gerad Kite, are both out now.

  • REAL MUMS SAY...Tips on conception

    "Having polycystic ovary syndrome, I tried for four years to get pregnant. Then I bought a fertility monitor and I was pregnant after three months. I’d recommend it to anyone," says Victoria McCann, 35, from Hampshire, mum to Patrick, 2.

    "I used a period tracker phone app for my last two pregnancies, which advised when my fertile days were. On both occasions, I fell pregnant within the first month during those days," says Pamela Macpherson, 31, from North Ayrshire, mum to Eva, 5, Eryn, 2, and Brodie, 8 months.

    "I stopped drinking and smoking, gave up fast food and ate more healthily – it worked," says Louisa Tsuman, 30, from Potters Bar, mum to Boris, 3, and Lexi, 6 months.

    "Just enjoy trying for a baby, the more you relax, the better it will be! We are currently going for baby number two and I am just enjoying it! It’s the best feeling," says Morgane Reddy, 31, from Caerphilly, mum to Cian, 2.

    "Both my husband and I were surprised to fall pregnant on the first try, despite being nearly 40. Afterwards, I read about how green tea and wheatgrass juice, which we both drink a lot of, boost your fertility. Reducing your alcohol intake makes a huge difference as well and I think acupuncture is fantastic, too," says Camilla Gouriet, 39, from Ascot, Berkshire, mum to Isac, 9, and Jacob, 6, and 34 weeks pregnant.

    "A couple of my friends have had success with using Conceive Plus or Pre-Seed – they are lubricants designed to simulate the sort of cervical mucus you get naturally at your fertile time of the month, which is needed to transfer sperm. They say that traditional lubricants can actually impede the sperm’s progress!" says an anonymous reader.

    Want to chat with mums about your experience of trying for a baby? Share your experiences with other mums in our forums, head to our Facebook page or tweet us @Baby_Expert.