Deciding to try for a baby can be one of the most exciting decisions you make in your life. It is the choice to create a family and look forward to a future of loving your child and experiencing life with them. While trying to conceive (TTC) can be very exciting, it can also be stressful, especially if it takes longer than expected. It takes the average couple 1 to 2 years to get pregnant if they have regular sex without contraception. And this statistic differs with age: 92% of women aged 19 to 26 will conceive after one year, whereas 82% of women aged 35-39 will conceive after one year.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are nothing to be ashamed of and are not uncommon while navigating fertility and TTC. But, studies show that stress can negatively impact fertility, and having trouble conceiving can also produce elevated levels of stress. When anxiety or stress strikes, stress hormones like cortisol are released in the body and can lead to physiological changes that can affect your reproductive health and ability to conceive. Symptoms of stress can affect reproductive health, whether you're feeling it because of fertility issues or other life challenges; this is why it is imperative to take care of your mind and body while trying to conceive.
We have consulted with fertility experts and asked them the best ways to take care of your mind, body, and relationships while trying to conceive. Keep reading for seven ways to take care of yourself and your relationship with your partner during TTC.
The 7 Best Ways to Take Care of Yourself While TTC, According to Medical Experts
Get Those Prenatal Vitamins and Nutrients
Preparing your body for conception is greatly important. We spoke to Dr. Kalea Wattles, a Naturopathic Physician specializing in women’s health, fertility, and functional medicine, to get information about how one can best prepare their body for conception. Dr. Wattles states that one of the best ways to prepare the body is to focus on mitochondrial health. “Mitochondria generate energy within our cells – energy that is critically important for egg health, ovulation, fertilization, implantation, and embryo development. In fact, research in the IVF setting has really taught us that the ability of an egg cell’s mitochondria to generate energy largely influences whether an embryo will develop successfully. Mitochondrial function is a very important consideration in terms of egg health and supporting mitochondria can slow ovarian aging. I like to support mitochondria with a Mediterranean-style diet, ensuring adequate sleep, and supplements like CoQ10, resveratrol, and alpha-lipoic acid. I also like to screen for any blood sugar issues and chronic inflammation that can worsen mitochondrial health.”
Thinking about critical nutrients is also essential. Taking iron supplements or ensuring to eat iron-rich foods is key, according to Dr. Wattles. “Iron is so important as iron-rich red blood cells deliver oxygen to tissues throughout the body, including the ovaries and uterus. Even further, adequate iron is helpful to create a healthy endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) where an embryo can attach.” Making an appointment with a fertility specialist to measure iron and vitamin D levels can help you figure out what approach is best for you and how much you need to focus on including these in your health regime.
Dr. Wattles states that vitamin D is especially good for increasing the likelihood of a conception, “In women undergoing IVF, sufficient levels of vitamin D increases the likelihood of a positive pregnancy test and pregnancy that results in a live birth.” Speaking to a fertility specialist about prenatal vitamins and nutrients can provide a clear plan for giving your body what it needs on the journey to pregnancy.
Correctly Track Ovulation
Knowing that you correctly track your ovulation cycle can ease any worries you may have about being intimate during the prime fertility window. Dr. Wattles discusses the importance of correctly identifying your ovulation window, “When it comes to getting pregnant – timing is everything! I always want to know how my patients identify their ovulation window and when they are timing intercourse. Technology is so readily available, and almost everyone is using an app to track their cycle, but an app isn’t the most accurate way to detect when we’re ovulating.
I teach my patients about using ovulation predictor kits (urinary test strips that detect a luteinizing hormone, the signal from the brain telling the ovary to release an egg) and cervical fluid tracking to identify their fertile window with more accuracy.” It can feel empowering to decode the information that your body is giving you that communicates when your fertile window is open.
Don’t Forget About the Basics
When focusing on trying to conceive, it’s easy to get caught up in all the planning, fertility windows, and other details, and forget about the basics. Dr. Denise Wiesner, DACM, L. Ac, an herbal medicine and fertility expert, urges women trying to conceive to not forget about their basic health needs.
- Get enough sleep
- Take time to relax
- Drink plenty of water
- Get out in the sun
These are all basic bodily needs that can be disregarded sometimes when stress about conceiving strikes. Putting your body’s basic needs first will aid in overall health and can be a form of self-care.
When trying to get pregnant, it’s normal to feel like sex begins to feel like a planned chore, rather than spontaneous or fun. It is especially vital to focus on nurturing intimacy while trying to conceive. Dr. Wiesner notices that often when people are TTC, they just have sex during the fertile window, which can lessen the intimacy and spontaneity of sex. Just having sex during a planned time can lead to feelings of pressure to perform and make sex feel less enjoyable.
Prioritizing connection with your partner can help maintain intimacy while TTC.
- Plan date nights and have sex outside of the fertile window to lessen the pressure and keep sex fun.
- Take time away from the busyness of life to spend time with your partner to aid both of you in feeling supported and connected during this time of transition.
- Change things up in the bedroom to add excitement to the experience – like playing music, bathing together, or using massage oils. Good Clean Love has a collection of massage oils and candles made with natural aphrodisiac scents that can enhance intimate touch and massage.
- Try introducing a fertility-friendly lubricant like BioGenesis, the only product of its kind that is paraben free and contains both calcium and magnesium ions that are clinically proven to support successful fertility.
Carve Out Time for Self-Care
When trying to conceive, Dr. Wiesner finds that many of her clients feel the pressure to do everything perfectly. However, this can cause unnecessary stress on the body and mind. Giving yourself space to relax instead of always focusing on getting pregnant is key to taking care of yourself while TTC.
According to Dr. Wiesner, one of the best ways to prepare the body mind is to nourish yourself and partake in self-care. Getting back to slowing down, meditating, exercising, or just doing something you enjoy may help more than you realize. Doing things for yourself such as getting a massage, having a spa day, or even spending time with loved ones is greatly beneficial for reducing stress and bringing some joy to life. Give some love and patience to yourself. You deserve it!
Include Your Partner
Some women may feel alone while trying to conceive, especially if it is taking longer than expected. Having heart-to-heart discussions with your partner and spending time together may help relieve the stress and anxiety of trying to conceive. Being open with each other about how the experience of TTC is affecting you both can help bring you and your partner closer together. Remember to do things together that don’t involve focusing on getting pregnant. Going on dates, walks, or just watching a movie together may help maintain a positive mindset during this time.
Talk to a Professional
Talking to a professional can be very helpful, even when things are going great. Making an appointment with a fertility counselor or specialist can help guide you along your journey to getting pregnant. Their professional advice can help you and your partner feel even more prepared and taken care of, and there’s no need to try to figure it all out yourself. A fertility specialist can make the journey seem less confusing or scary and help you develop a plan that feels right for you. If you have trouble conceiving, speaking to a fertility counselor can help ease your worries and allow you to learn more about your options moving forward.
Many women have trouble dealing with obsessing over getting pregnant. It is an entirely normal experience to have when trying to conceive. Wiesner discusses the importance of releasing control when trying to conceive: “There are things in life that are out of our control, even if we try to control them. There’s something of the miraculous in babies. Who knows when your baby wants to be born? You don’t know what is in store for you. Trying to conceive is like a deep dive into the unknown, and it’s about trusting our journey in this life.”
Adopting this mindset of surrendering to the unknown can help us understand that things will happen when they happen. Trust that trying your best is genuinely all you can do and release the need to be perfect when trying to conceive.