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Let's Talk Babies!

Getting Pregnant

Trying to get pregnant with your second or subsequent child isn’t always as easy as it was the first time around.  Many couples find themselves faced with fertility issues when they try to grow their family, they find themselves suffering from secondary infertility.  Secondary infertility is defined, primarily, as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after successfully having one or more children.  Millions of couples suffer from secondary infertility.  Although so many find themselves suffering through the inability to have another child they often don’t seek treatment or seek out the social support they need. They have a child already so noone wants to hear about their problems with infertility which causes couples to often suffer in silience with secondary infertility.

For many of the couples who find themselves suffering from secondary infertility they were able to easily (or at least without too much trouble) conceive their first child(ren), so the idea that it may be difficult to have another child never crossed their minds.  However, your reproductive health can change fairly quickly.  A woman’s quantity and quality of eggs can decrease rapidly and result in fertility issues only months after her first child is born.  A man’s sperm count and the quality of his sperm can also rapidly change impacting the couples ability to conceive subsequent children.

There are many factors that can cause a couple to experience fertility issues after successfully having one or more children.  Age can play a big role, particularly if you waited until your 30s to have your first child.  A woman is most fertile between the ages of 18-30 so if she waits until she is 30 or older to have her first child she will be that much older when she tries for the second and may likely experience some difficulty in conceiving.  Untreated infections, endometriosis, or chronic illnesses or conditions can all play a role as well, for both men and women.

Luckily most couples, about 85-90%, will conceive within a year of trying.  This holds true even if you are trying for your second (or more) child.  Most doctors recommend that you seek medical help if you have not conceived after 1 year of trying if you are under 35, 6 months of trying for women over 35, and 3 months of trying for women over 40.  Not every woman will be able to get pregnant the first try every time, it sometimes takes several tries.  Try to stay positive and seek advice from your doctor if you are worried.

Suffering from secondary infertility is painful and couples shouldn’t suffer alone and in silence.  Be sure to talk about how you are feeling with your spouse, your family, friends and seek out a support group of other couples suffering from secondary infertility.  Unfortunately, you may not get the support you need from friends and family who may think you should be happy that you have one child so a support group of others going through a similar situation may be your best bet.  If you can’t locate a support group talk to your ob/gyn for suggestions or visit RESOLVE (the national infertility association).

Try to stay positive and don’t be afraid to seek medical help if you think you are having fertility issues.

(resourses: RESOLVE, Fertility Factors)

Making the decision to have your first child is a huge deal.  A lot goes into that decision.  Afterall, you are deciding to completely change the dynamic of your relationship forever, you will no longer be just a couple you will be a family.  Conceiving your first child means you are taking on the responsibility of caring for another human life and putting their needs, wants and desires before your own.  It is a big deal.  My husband and I waited to start our family until we hit our 30s because we wanted to spend time just being a couple, we wanted to be financially stable and we wanted to be in a place where it was possible for me to stay home with our child. But when we finally took the plunge it felt right, we were ready (well as ready as you can be).

Lately we have begun talking about expanding our family, trying for #2.  The talk has been pretty limited so far, just a few little conversations here and there.  No concrete decisions yet.  I’ve discovered something through these conversations though, deciding to try for #2 may actually be a bigger decision for me than the first was.  With Maya I just knew I was ready every part of me was screaming that it was time, this time I feel like I have more to think about and the signs are quite so obvious.

We want to have more kids.  I’ve always pictured myself with 2.  However, I’m having trouble actually saying “ok, let’s do it.” (and my husband is too).  So much will change when we expand our family.  I used to think that once you had the first the giant changes were over and having more wouldn’t be that big a deal.  I was wrong.  There are so many things standing between me and making the decision to go for #2.  Like:

How will my relationship with Maya change and am I ready for it to change?  I love the way things are now and I don’t want my relationship with her to change.

Can we manage two kids in our condo or should we buy a house first?  I don’t think we have the room we would need but I can’t say that I want to put it off just for a house.

How will we manage two kids?  Traveling, shopping, trips to the zoo, naptimes and bedtimes, it all becomes more complicated with two, am I ready for that?

Will they be the right number of years apart?  I don’t want them too close together or too far apart.

So many little things swirling around in my head, so many questions, so many “what ifs”.  Who knew it would be such a hard decision.  I think the biggest thing standing in the way is Maya.  I want her to have a brother or a sister, both my husband and I loved having siblings growing up.  However, I worry about how bringing a new baby into our life will turn her world upside down.  I think (I know) she would love the baby and would be an awesome big sister so I don’t know why I let it bother me so much.

Maybe, we just need to stop thinking about it so much and just go for it.  Who knows.  We’ll talk some more, figure a few things out and decide from there.  Any tips, pointers, suggestions or opinions are welcome (obviously we could use a little help from the pros on this one).

When you are trying to conceive it can be hard to weed through all of the advice you may receive to find the truth.  Between reading books, researching online, and getting tips from friends and family you will find you have a mountain of tips, tricks and techniques running through your head.  Trying to conceive a child can be an exciting (and fun 😉 ) time for you and your spouse.  Everyone would love for it to happen that first magical time you try, but it doesn’t always work that way in the real world.  Often times you have to try and try again before becoming pregnant.

There are a few misconceptions out there about trying to conceive.  Here’s a quick look at a few of the myths out there and the truths behind them.

Myth #1: It is easy to get pregnant.

Truth: For many couples it is not easy to get pregnant.  There is only a 25% chance of becoming pregnant during any given menstrual cycle.  Don’t get upset if it doesn’t happen the first try, it may take a little while.

Myth #2: Having too much sex could hurt your chances of conceiving.

Truth: Unless your husband has been diagnosed with a low sperm count it doesn’t matter how often you have sex, it won’t impact your chances of conceiving.

Myth #3: The best time to try to conceive is the day you ovulate.

Truth: You are actually more fertile during the five days preceding ovulation.  Use an ovulation kit to predict the day, then aim to have sex at least every other day for the five days leading up to your ovulation day.

Myth #4: Using lubrication makes it harder to get pregnant.

Truth: Some studies suggest that lubricants can slow a man’s sperm down, however, most couples shouldn’t worry about it.  If you are having fertility issues your doctor may recommend either not using lubricant or using Pre-Seed, a brand that doesn’t affect sperm.

Myth #5: You can get pregnant as soon as you stop using birth control.

Truth: While this is true for contraceptives such as condoms it is not necessarily true for hormone based contraceptives such as the pill or patch.  While there is a chance of becoming pregnant as soon as you stop using your birth control it does take a few months for your cycle to return to normal and you may not ovulate during this time.

And those are just a few of the myths floating around out there.  Remember that most couples, about 80%, conceive within the first year of trying.  So, although it may not happen in the first couple of tries it will happen eventually.  If you do not become pregnant after one full year of trying to conceive you should talk to your doctor about possible fertility issues.

I receive a lot of questions from readers of my Early Signs of Pregnancy and What to Do if You Think You Are Pregnant articles wondering what their chances of getting pregnant are.  Most of the questions come from women and girls who do not want to be pregnant yet still had unprotected sex.

My answer to these questions is usually pretty similar, any time you have unprotected sex there is a chance of becoming pregnant.  Now depending on when during your cycle the unprotected sex took place will greatly impact your odds of becoming pregnant.

During any given cycle a fertile woman has a 25% chance of becoming pregnant.  If you are desperately trying to get pregnant those odds may not seem very good, however, for those who desperately DON’T want to be pregnant those odds may seem pretty high.

An average menstrual cycle is 28 days beginning with the start of your period and ending with the start of your next period.  However, it is perfectly normal to have a menstrual cycle as long as 35 days or as short as 21 days.  For a 28 day cycle ovulation typically occurs on day 14, however, it can occur any where from day 11 to day 21.  Some woman will ovulate like clockwork on the same day of their cycle every month, others will experience erratic ovulation.

A woman can become pregnant during ovulation.  The best chances of becoming pregnant are the couple of days before ovulation through 24 hours after ovulation.  Timing is key when you are trying to get pregnant, so you can see why your chances of getting pregnant during any given cycle is only 25%.

For those women who do not wish to become pregnant your best chance is to always use protection.  Any time you have unprotected sex there is a chance of becoming pregnant, always keep that in the back of your mind.

If you have questions about your own menstrual cycle or your own specific chances of becoming pregnant talk to your doctor.

(source: WebMD)

Before you start trying to get pregnant you want to do everything you can to make sure you are ready emotionally, physically, and financially for this life changing experience. Being ready physically means being healthy.  Being healthy is important to help support a growing fetus but also to help you conceive in the first place.  Good eating habits and a healthy diet are an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

Getting pregnant comes easy for some women but for others it isn’t so easy.  There is a lot about our daily lives that can impact our ability to conceive such as our stress level, our work/life balance, the safety of our job, how or if we exercise, and what we eat.

What we eat can have a big impact on our ability to conceive, but it also has a big impact on that tiny little baby as soon as it begins to grow inside of you.  We all know that good nutrition is important during pregnancy but it is also important before you get pregnant as well.  What goes into our body seems to have an impact on fertility.

Here are a few things to consider about your diet when you are trying to get pregnant.

  1. Reduce your intake of alcohol.  You shouldn’t drink alcohol while you are pregnant so this is a great time to get used to not drinking.  Skip that extra glass of wine with dinner.
  2. Eliminate caffeine if you can, if not at least reduce your intake of caffeine.  Caffeine has been linked to miscarriage risk early in pregnancy so it is a good idea to cut your caffeine intake before you get pregnant anyway.
  3. Eat whole grains instead of a lot of refined carbohydrates.  Skip the white bread and pasta and go for the heartier whole wheat versions instead.
  4. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake.  Pick fruits and vegetables with a lot of color.
  5. Watch your fish intake.  Limit how much fish you consume each week and make sure what you do eat is low in mercury.  Steer clear of those high mercury fish like tuna, swordfish, etc.
  6. Increase your iron intake.  You can get iron from foods like red meat and spinach.  You can also consider a multivitamin with iron (most women’s multivitamins contain iron).
  7. Eat a well balanced diet, try to avoid fad diets especially those that limit any one food group.

Talk to your doctor about your current diet and what changes he or she recommends for women trying to conceive.  If you think your diet may be impacting your ability to get pregnant consider going to a nutritionist for help.  The saying goes that we are what we eat.  By starting to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating habits you may be able to impact your chances of getting pregnant.