Need help trying to conceive? Here are some tips for preparing for pregnancy from our Ambassador Amy Will as part of our Ambassador Spotlight series. Check out her advice below:
In my previous post on the For Two Fitness® blog, I shared my experiences while training for my first post-baby marathon and soon after my husband and I decided it was time to start trying for Baby #2. While we became pregnant with our first baby right away, our wait for Baby #2 felt like a marathon itself – a very hilly marathon with high hopes of being pregnant at the beginning of each cycle and the lows of finding out you’re not expecting at the end.
Trying to conceive can be a very stressful time, especially as the months pass by without seeing a positive pregnancy test. Through some research, I learned that we weren’t alone in this time of waiting. The average couple has an 80% chance of conceiving within a year and, even with perfectly-timed intercourse and no fertility issues, there is only a 25% chance of conceiving each month!
Personally, I struggled to even have a cycle for many months. After nursing my son until he was 14 months old, I found that completely weaning him was the only way to get my cycle to return. Once my cycle did return, we still weren’t getting pregnant. I decided the best I could do while waiting was pray and prepare my body for a future pregnancy, though we weren’t sure if our future had a second child in it.
As an avid runner, there were times when I questioned whether running and strength training were helping or hindering my fertility, if maybe gaining a few pounds would help us get pregnant or if cutting out coffee all together would do the trick. I did cut back from running full marathons to running half marathons for the year and ran lower mileage in training, in hopes that it would help my body to get back on track.
Here are a few ways to prepare for pregnancy before conception:
1. Have a Healthy Exercise Routine – Regular exercise is so important! Though getting too much or too little exercise may harm your fertility by causing hormonal imbalances that disrupt ovulation. If you don’t have a regular exercise regimen, consult your physician to determine an appropriate amount of exercise for you (Livestrong.com).
2. Eat a Balanced Diet – Make sure to include foods that are rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E, folic acid, calcium, omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, zinc, and selenium. Keep your caffeine intake in a healthy range and refrain from alcohol consumption (Parker-Littler, 15)
3. Take a Prenatal Vitamin – Start taking a daily folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms up to three months before conception (Parker-Littler, 16). If you are unsure of which prenatal vitamin to purchase, ask your doctor or midwife for recommendations.
4. Chart Your Cycle – Use a calendar to chart the length of your cycle and calculate possible dates for ovulation in order to time intercourse for conception. Not everyone has a 28-day cycle! There are other more in-depth ways to track your fertile phase including the basal body temperature method and cervical mucus method.
5. De-Stress – De-stressing can be difficult when trying to conceive. Plus, if you are chasing other little ones around the house, there isn’t much down time to rest! Getting a good nights sleep, keeping up with regular exercise and even talking with a supportive friend can help to relieve stress. For me, de-stressing meant spending intentional time in prayer and being honest with God about my fears and our desire to have more children.
6. Maintain a Healthy Weight – Being overweight or underweight can both affect your fertility. Women planning a pregnancy are encouraged to maintain a BMI in the range of 20-25 to improve their reproductive health (Parker-Littler, 18).
7. Count Your Blessings – Focusing on the blessings in your life helps to get through the tough times. Each morning, making a list of three things I thank God for really helped to change my perspective on the harder days! Don’t let the stress of trying to conceive keep you from enjoying the people in your life now.
While I was tapering for a half marathon in September, I just wasn’t feeling like myself. My appetite had increased, I was more tired than usual and felt dizzy when moving around too quickly but I wrote off the symptoms as the “taper crazies”. (Don’t most runners get a little crazy while waiting for race day?!) After so many months of being disappointed, I was scared to get my hopes up that this might be the month.
Race day came and I crossed the finish line 6 minutes slower than my goal time of 1:30. I knew I had given all I had that day and I felt totally drained for the rest of the weekend. Must be coming down with a cold, I figured.
Days passed by and I was late. I still had doubts because once my cycle did return it was longer than normal (33 to 35 days), I waited a few days and then took a pregnancy test. There it was – the positive line! The line was faint, but it was there!
I could hardly believe my eyes so I took another test a few days later and took a picture of the test to show my husband when he got off work. We really were pregnant!
Now at 14 weeks pregnant, the reality of having our second child is setting in. My growing belly sure is sure evidence that our baby is healthy and on his/her way! Words can’t explain how thankful we are for the blessing of another pregnancy and for our son becoming a big brother next spring.
This pregnancy is proving to be more challenging than my first, but it is such a miracle to be able to grow another life. When the usual pregnancy symptoms are getting to me or I feel the need to complain, I just remind myself how fervently we prayed for this baby. The morning sickness, lack of energy and pregnancy aches and pains are all worth it for this precious baby!
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