According to what you learned in middle school sex ed class, getting pregnant is easy-peasy. You practically high-five a guy, and you’ll get knocked up.
But getting pregnant can be way harder than it looks (especially if you’re relying on the high-five method). According to fertility expert Peter Ahlering, M.D., most healthy women under the age of 35 have a 20 to 25 percent chance of getting pregnant each month when they’re actually trying. And those odds decrease the older you get after that. “There is more involved than one may think,” says Ahlering.
When I tried to get pregnant the first time, I was shocked to realize that I really didn’t know how to make a baby—or rather, how to make the whole process easier. I thought I could get knocked up every time I had sex, which explains why I bought pregnancy tests about as often as I order takeout (you’re welcome, pregnancy test industry).
Ready to make a baby? Try these tips from top fertility experts to increase the odds you’ll be prego ASAP…that is, if you want to be.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to take prenatal vitamins when you’re pregnant, but doing so before you’re with child can up your chances of having a baby, says fertility specialist Gloria Richard-Davis, M.D., coauthor of Planning Parenthood. “Eating healthy will raise your chances of conceiving,” she explains, “and prenatal vitamins help fill in any holes in the mother’s diet.” Look for one with vitamin B6—it’s been shown to increase fertility—and take it with Omega-3 fish oil, which helps aid absorption of the vitamins.
Try to Time It
Yeah, timing when you get busy is a little unsexy, but since you were going to have sex anyway…you might as well make it count. Having sex when you’re ovulating is important, but there’s a little more to it. “There is a four- to five-day window around ovulation, starting two days prior to actual ovulation, [during which] a female can conceive,” says Ahlering. He recommends trying a couple of times during that period if you can swing it. How can you tell when you’re ovulating? You can pick up an ovulation kit at your local pharmacy, or you can save money and keep tabs on your vaginal discharge—when there’s more than usual and it’s similar to the consistency of egg whites, you’re probably ovulating.
Skip the Lube
Lube is awesome for a good time in bed, but we’re trying to make a baby here! Most lubricants can actually work against your pregnancy plans because they negatively affect sperm mobility, says Richard-Davis. If you can’t live without your lube, she recommends Pre-Seed, an FDA-approved “fertility-friendly” lubricant developed by doctors. It’s pH-balanced to match fertile cervical mucus as well as the pH of his sperm, so it won’t hurt your odds of conceiving.
Cut Back on Caffeine
If most of us were forced to choose between coffee and sex, it’d be a tough call. (Hey, no judgment.) But when it comes to baby-making, it’s best to scale back a little on the caffeine to be safe since several studies have shown that it can increase the amount of time it takes to conceive. Ahlering recommends having less than 200 milligrams per day, (i.e., about one and a half medium lattes). Keep in mind that chocolate and most sodas contain caffeine, too…
Don’t Increase Your Exercise Routine
You want to run a marathon someday, but right now your routine involves three-milers? Maybe shelve your 26.2 goals ‘til after you have a baby. Going to the extreme with exercise can be “problematic” for conception, says Ahlering—the best method is to keep doing what you’re doing.
Go Easy on the Alcohol
Sure, alcohol can help promote conception-friendly activities, but drinking too much of it can actually hamper your plans. Don’t become a teetotaler just yet, though. “Abstaining from alcohol is not necessary or helpful regarding fertility,” says Ahlering. “In fact, I often see that when one is overly restrictive, this can become stressful.” To stay in the safe zone, he recommends sticking with one or two four-ounce glasses of wine or one or two 12-ounce beers a day.
Try to Chill Out
Making a baby can be the opposite of relaxing—especially if you don’t conceive right away. But being stressed out will only work against you, says Davis. Try to focus on the (hot sex-filled) journey, not the destination. You’ll be surprised by how much it helps.
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