Planning for Pregnancy

Setting off on your journey to parenthood can be exciting, but it can also have its challenges. Especially if things aren’t happening as fast as you expected.

It’s worth remembering that the average fertile couple has just a 20 per cent chance of conceiving a baby in any given month of unprotected sexual intercourse. However, there are all kinds of ways you can enhance your chances of conceiving naturally, including correct timing and lifestyle improvements. 

Understanding your pregnancy window

When you’re trying to conceive, it’s better to have intercourse regularly, say two or three times a week throughout the month, and especially during the two days before you ovulate. Some call this the ‘pregnancy window’, when your chances of conception are higher. 

If you’re not sure when this is, find out with our pregnancy window calculator »

The health and lifestyle factors that can make a difference

You both need to think about your lifestyle and health before you start trying for a baby, as it can help speed things up. Plus it’ll make you healthier and happier. 

Here are some important tips:

  • Check your general health with your GP- Infectious diseases like rubella or chicken pox can affect your baby’s development during pregnancy. Your GP can check for these, along with blood count and tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if appropriate. Also, discuss any medication you or your partner are taking, as some can affect sperm production, or should be avoided if you’re pregnant.
  • Make sure you eat a healthy diet – a balanced diet is important for general health. And it’s good to include leafy green vegetables, as they contain folic acid that helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in Australia recommends women take 0.5mg of folic acid supplements every day for at least three months before and into pregnancy. You can take other vitamin supplements, too, but a balanced, healthy diet is better!
  • Maintain a healthy weight – being significantly under or overweight can affect your chances of conception, too. If you’re not sure, use a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator. The ideal BMI is between 20 and 25. If you have a high or low BMI, simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can make a big difference.
  • Exercise moderately – frequent strenuous exercise can be as bad as not enough exercise, for both partners, when it comes to trying to conceive, and for women during pregnancy. Keep your workouts regular and at a low intensity.
  • Stop smoking and recreational drug use – this may seem obvious, but it’s important to stress how damaging even passive smoking can be to your chances of conceiving, and to your baby’s health while you’re pregnant.
  • Easy on the alcohol – the NHMRC recommends no more than two standard drinks per week for women, and four for men while trying to conceive. Try to have at least two alcohol-free days a week and, for women, try to drink less during the second half of your menstrual cycle.
  • Monitor your caffeine intake – the effects of caffeine on fertility still aren’t clear, but we recommend no more than two cups of coffee a day. Also, remember there’s caffeine in other drinks and foods – especially in cola drinks and chocolate.

The age factor

The number one factor in conception is the woman’s age, simply because the number and quality of healthy eggs in the ovary declines with age – especially after 35. Find out more »

Next steps

Most people start to consider seeking professional advice on fertility and conception if they have been trying for 12 months or more without success. It’s recommended to only wait six months if you’re over 35.

If you have any questions, you can discuss these with your GP, or with a TasIVF fertility specialist.