When my husband and I decided to start trying I was excited and antsy but I refused to buy a pregnancy book (or even look at them). I thought it was kinda like looking at wedding magazines before you had the ring. I think this is my biggest regret. I have now read A LOT of pregnancy books, blogs, etc. and I learnt something really valuable the hard way. Pretty much every pregnancy book ever starts with a chapter or two on conceiving…holy hannah that would have been beneficial!! I honestly just figured there were so many “whoopsy” babies out there that getting pregnant couldn’t possibly be that difficult especially considering we were both under 25, really healthy, ideal weights etc. It would be easy right?
Here’s a little quiz for you. I just made it. I knew none of the answers before TTC, and while some people may reply to this saying I learnt this in school I did not talk Biology in high school (it wasn’t mandatory) so I missed all the biological side of conceiving and pregnancy and they never went into this kind of depth in sex ed. Seriously though, this should be taught in school.
True or False.
1) You should start a new exercise routine before TTC that is moderately challenging.
True. Starting a new exercise regiment once you are pregnant is a bad idea it is very easy to over strain. Working out is insanely good for you when you are pregnant. Women who exercise consistently throughout pregnancy have easier labours, are less likely to develop gestational diabetes and can help you maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy (which means you are healthier, your baby is healthier and you have less to lose after you deliver). Overdoing it however could alter your ability to ovulate which could alter your ability to conceive. So take up some good cardio classes, consult a personal fitness trainer, read up online. Prenatal yoga is pretty much the greatest thing ever. I feel a gazillion times better when I do it. I was in a gym lull when we conceived and wasn’t going much. Man, 9 months is a LONG time. I want to go back to the gym so bad but this is not the time to start a new regime so I have to wait until baby gets here and hope I don’t have a c-section (1)
2) When TTC You should completely cut out alcohol & caffeine.
False. While TTC small amounts of alcohol will not harm the baby. (It takes a while for implantation etc. to happen which is what is occurring between ovulation and the positive test). While experts disagree on how much alcohol is safe to have when you are pregnant (which is why you should completely stop drinking when the test is positive to be safe), they do agree that casually drinking while TTC is ok. You don’t want to be binge drinking but really if you are binge drinking are you ready to be a parent anyways?! Professionals say keeping it under 2 drinks per day is fine…that’s a lot of booze!
There is also a false belief that caffeine is incredibly dangerous for a growing baby and this should be deleted from the diet. It’s really not. You can safely have 200mg of caffeine a day, a cup of coffee has 150-ish, a can of coke 34-ish. Keep in mind if you are an energy drink guzzler that one energy drink may have more than 200mg of caffeine but if you are like me and enjoy a morning coffee and an afternoon soda you are completely fine to do so. There are plenty of other things you will need to cut out when you get pregnant and we will discuss that another day. In fact, if you are like me and are used to having caffeine cutting it out completely may result in horrible horrible migraines. I falsely believed that caffeine was bad and cut it out cold turkey, it took a month for the headaches to go away and while I was drinking decaf coffee I was craving a coca cola unlike anyone’s business. Finally after a few months of TTC I googled it and realized caffeine was fine. I went back to a coke every other day or so and felt soooo much better. This is especially important to remember when you are dealing with morning sickness. No one wants to be puking AND have a migraine. Stay super hydrated and drink a caffeinated soda! (1)
3) When TTC you should have sex every day.
False. Tests have shown that there is no difference in length of time to conception between couples who have sex every day and people who have sex every other day so don’t overdo it. Trying to have sex every day takes any spontaneity that might be left away and can actually turn something that should be so wonderful into a chore. Don’t let that happen to you if sex is becoming chore-like then it’s time to ease back a bit. However, you don’t want to wait too long in between sessions, having regular sex ensures you are getting new livelier healthier sperm (1)
4) You should begin taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you are TTC.
True or at the very least folic acid. Folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida and it is believed folic acid reduces the risk of cleft lips/palate, heart defects, miscarriage and preterm labour. You can buy prenatal vitamins at any pharmacy with the rest of the vitamins. Generic brand is fine, they all pretty much have the same stuff in them. (2)
5) Position matters.
False. Sperm know what they need to do they will get the job done or they won’t, position doesn’t really affect it. Either does laying on your back for a while after sex. Some will inevitably “leak out of you” no matter what you do, but rest assured what needs to happen will happen in good time. (3)
6) You should get your husband into some looser fitting boxers and out of the tighter briefs.
False. there is not strong evidence suggesting that boxers are better than briefs. There is however some evidence saying that it is better for your husband to keep his boys a few degrees cooler than the rest of his body and boxers may assist in that. So it’s up to you. It may be a good idea to make the switch if he is wearing briefs but it certainly isn’t “scientifically” necessary. (4)
7) You should aim to have sex on the date of ovulation.
False. It could already be too late by then. While the egg is only ready to go for about 24 hours the sperm live up to a couple of days inside you. It is better to have sex in the days preceding ovulation than on the actual date of ovulation. (5)
Bottom line, there is TONS of great information out there on tips and tricks to conceiving and it is up to you to find that information and learn from it. Go buy a pregnancy book such as “what to expect when you’re expecting” or a personal favourite of mine “my pregnancy, Canadian edition” (it has pretty pictures to look at and is Canadian there are quite a few differences between the Canadian medical system and the American one, it’s hardcover which I dig…) and don’t feel guilty about buying a book when you aren’t preggers yet. The information inside is there to help you conceive. It also REALLY doesn’t hurt to read up on the first trimester before you are pregnant. It will help ease stress between seeing that positive test at home and your first prenatal visit with your doctor.
An average healthy couple will take up to 6 months to conceive though and even if you are in the prime demographic (in your 20s, within your healthy BMI, excising, eating right, living a non-stressful lifestyle) most doctors will not intervene, or run fertility tests etc. until you have been actively trying for at least a year. Do your best to mentally prepare yourself for that. While there are lots of “whoopsy” babies out there that does not mean you will conceive right away. So try to take your time and enjoy the ride (no pun intended haha).
And when the month is over, you take the test and see a negative. Remind yourself that it is one more month where you can eat whatever you want, enjoy a glass of wine and your pre-pregnancy body. It is also one more month to relish alone time with your husband because once the baby is here, as we all know, things are going to change drastically!
(1)Murkoff H. & Mazel, S., (2008) What to expect when you’re expecting. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
(2) Beckett, V., Golara, M., Jana, L., Khan, N., Halsey, C., Lee, T., Ford, F., (2012) My pregnancy. Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Also here is the link to where you can buy this book on Amazon, like I said I’ve read a lot of pregnancy books this one is my favorite. http://www.amazon.ca/Pregnancy-Canadian-Edition-VIRGINIA-Beckett/dp/1553631765