As a mom who has had one surprise baby when I was 21, to being 29 now and making a conscious decision with my husband to try for another baby; those are two vastly different ways of becoming pregnant. Of course having a surprise baby means that I didn’t have to plan when I was 21 (maybe I should have, but then I wouldn’t have my amazing son that I have now) and I never realized what I had to do to actually have a baby.
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I never realized or appreciated the miracle of the timing and act that creating a child was. Despite not planning, my son is the love of my life (tied with my husband of course). I love him so much that we decided it was time for a sibling. I also really wanted to go through this process with my husband. He is not the biological father of our first child, but he has been a part of his life since our son was 2. So he has been there for over half of his life! From decision to conception, everything was planned and different.
The Backstory of our Pregnancy Journey
So in order to know what I did, let me first talk about our general history with trying for a child. In 2019 I decided to get an IUD because we thought the idea of children was much further out of the picture than it actually came to be. I was on the Mirena IUD for around 9 months. I also did not like the side effects of the IUD (better than the Depo..but still).
In short, it tricks your body into thinking it’s already pregnant so that you don’t get pregnant. Therefore I still had extreme backaches, swollen breasts, and complete exhaustion for 1-2 weeks out of the month. It was constant. Being pregnant now, I think I was more tired then. I had also read horror stories about women not being able to get pregnant for 2+ years or NEVER getting pregnant after the IUD. So for everything, I got it removed. I did a cleanse from the hundreds of blog posts that I read to cleanse the hormones out of my system. I drank different kinds of tea and took herbs, I got my period back after a couple of months and BAM we were in business.
We had been trying for about 3 cycles when (due to the joys of working a full-time normal job) I lost my job unexpectedly. I also decided to compete competitively for Taekwondo. For those who don’t know, that means cutting or gaining weight (safely of course) to be in your desired weight class, extensive training, and a VERY healthy diet. Because of these things, we thought it would be wise to wait.
After waiting about 6 months (and not getting to compete because of COVID-19), we began trying again. It took 5 cycles to become pregnant. While I know for some beautiful ladies, that is not long and you are cringing at my writing as I say that. We all know everyday that goes by can feel like eternity. I am so blessed we were able to become pregnant, and I always have thoughts and prayers for the women who are still trying or unable.
Having said that, these are 8 starter steps that you should take if you are at the beginning of your journey to get pregnant. Experienced couples may already know these things and are at stages such as speaking to a fertility doctor, or going through IVF. Always speak to your doctor before starting any new regimens, and to talk to them about your concerns.
The To-Do List for Getting Pregnant
Having said that, we all know it’s not about how many times you have sex in a month, but when you have sex during the month. I also HAVE to say, that I am not a medical professional. I am just an average woman and am telling my story of what worked for me. Always consult with your doctor or a medical professional before taking any new vitamins or starting new regimens. So with that, this is what I did to get pregnant…
- Take a prenatal vitamin
This is recommended before you even decide to become pregnant. I purchased these vitamins because I took the old fashioned “one-a-day” type vitamins with my first pregnancy. You know, the big horse pill ones that smell like the WORST vitamins imaginable. It made me want to hurl every time I took them.
These vitamins not only have everything you need, but they are smaller than regular vitamins and have a special coating that makes them so easy to go down. It also comes in a 3 month supply, so you don’t have to remember to buy them all the time (which helps when that pregnancy brain kicks in). Being 100% organic and non-GMO, these are the perfect vitamins for starting your pregnancy journey.
Because we have been trying for quite a while, I continued to take these as my regular daily vitamin in between conception attempts. Folate/Folic Acid is especially important when trying to get pregnant to aid in the prevention of birth defects and neural tube deficiencies in the fetus.
- Track your period.
If you weren’t tracking your period before, you should be now. This information is the most useful for everything else that follows. How many days your period lasts + how many days before your next period = your menstrual cycle. I average 27 days, which is actually 1 day shorter than the average 28 day cycle.
Some women have shorter cycles and some have longer. Using this math, you would typically ovulate on the 14th day of your 28 day cycle. Ovulation is a whole other beast though. We’ll get to that later.
- Track your temperature.
You don’t just need any thermometer. You need one that tracks to the tenth degree (that’s two spaces after the decimal point). I ordered this basal thermometer because it also came with an app that is highly recommended throughout the fertility community. There is even a Facebook group that you can use to connect with other families!
I met a really great friend through that Facebook group and we are still in contact today. I’m so happy to hear just recently became pregnant as well. Don’t knock it till you try it! This app also allows you to track everything from PMS symptoms down to everything we are going to cover below. It is extremely thorough.
You need to track your temperature everyday. There are many conversations on this topic that can make it overwhelming. The most important thing is to take it BEFORE you put your feet down on the floor when you wake up. This is when your temperature is at its lowest. If you get up and go to the bathroom, you won’t be able to take it after. I kept it near my pillow so I could take it while I was still laying down.
Your temperature changes throughout your cycle. Typically it is lowest during your period and highest right before your period. Your temperature dips 24-48 hours before you ovulate. Hence, why this is only good for tracking purposes and not entirely accurate for predicting ovulation. If you can track a pattern, then you can guess a little better in the future of when you are likely to ovulate.
This can be extremely sensitive to matters like room temperature, sleeping with more blankets than normal, and sleeping in a new place for example. If you cannot create a routine environment, then this may be good for you. As you will cause more anxiety and stress about your results.
- Learn about your cervical mucus.
Doesn’t that whole sentence sound disgusting? As terrible as it is, it’s highly recommended. Some women can track from the discharge on their underwear. Some women need to use clean hands to use a finger to feel in your vagina for the type of liquid. It tends to lean in order like this:
- Beginning of the month is your period (you obviously don’t need to feel for that).
- Immediately after is a low fertility phase where you tend to be dry or sticky.
- You’ll then be in your fertile phase with a watery consistency.
- When you are ovulating, it will be egg white consistency.
- Then after ovulation, you will go back to the sticky phase.
- And back to dry before starting the cycle all over with your period.
This can be the most confusing part of the list. It definitely was for me. Water intake can effect your cervical mucus production. So make sure you are drinking the right amount of water!
- Use LH strips.
Yet another thing you can track when trying to get pregnant. LH stands for Luteinizing Hormone which is present immediately before ovulation. This is why it’s a great predictor of when you are ovulating. Personally, this was more accurate for me than taking my temperature. You can buy them in bulk on Amazon for extremely cheap. I personally bought these ones.
You simply dip your strip in urine (not first thing in the morning though) starting a few days after your period ends at roughly the same time everyday. This helps determine when you are about to ovulate. The strips will begin to change color (much like a pregnancy test) when it begins to detect the hormone. You can see in the photo below for example.
You want to see a “peak” reading, or when the line is at its darkest. In theory, you will ovulate 24-48 hours after a peak reading. That’s when it is really time to “get busy”. Through tracking, you will understand your readings better. Not every woman ovulates 24-48 hours hours after a peak reading. It may be more. Through tracking, you will learn more about your ovulation cycle.
- Track your ovulation.
There is a reason I put this almost last. Because in reality, all of these steps combined are what help you track when you are possibly ovulating. Once you do everything above, only then will you be able to accurately track your ovulation. No app or calendar knows your body better than you do. And hey, things happen. So things may change slightly every month. You may ovulate later or earlier, you may not get an LH reading, your temp can stay high the whole month because your A/C broke. The only one who knows you are truly ovulating is you.
- Use Pre-Seed
Like I said, we were trying for a few cycles before and after my job loss. I feel like I just never got that egg white consistency in my cervical mucus. I knew that because I tracked it. Of course I went to Pinterest and learned so many women were using this miracle liquid. You may not know that it is discouraged to use lube when you are trying to get pregnant. It can interfere with that perfect environment mother nature created to allow sperm to travel through your cervix. But even mother nature needs a little help sometimes.
This lube is one of the few safe lubricants that is specifically designed to help you get pregnant. I used it 2x during my last cycle before I got pregnant after I got my peak LH reading. It was a couple of weeks later I took my test (well 3 tests actually) and got my positive result! I swear that THIS is what helped most of all for me.
- Eat a healthy diet
As I mentioned earlier, I was already eating well because of my exercise regimen with Taekwondo. There are countless fertility diets out there that may be worth looking into. I simply was eating well, limiting caffeine (I switched to decaf a couple of years ago), removing artificial sugars, and limiting the amount of take out we had. I think this was enough for me to create a healthy system. Again, speak with your doctor or healthcare provider about changes like these.
The Take Away
So there you have it. These were the major things I did to help me conceive. There are many, many things that can contribute to being able or not able to conceive. These are things you may need to add to your regimen or that you are already doing!
Of course, if you ever have any questions, please call your OB/GYN or family doctor and speak with them about your concerns. Many fertility clinics will also provide some free and beneficial information.
I would love for you to comment about what else has worked for other mommas! Of course, once you become pregnant, head over to the Pregnancy tab of my blog and check out the other posts to help you in your pregnancy journey. Starting with “The Ultimate First Trimester Checklist”.