When my husband and I first decided we wanted to start "trying," I remember feeling incredibly excited and exceedingly stressed. Getting pregnant isn't always easy--and I was nervous that I'd--we'd--struggle with fertility issues.
We were fortunate and blessed to get pregnant shortly thereafter, but I know it's not that simple for every would-be mom and dad--and I've had friends who've struggled, physically and emotionally.
Every couple mired in infertility, every woman who has ever spent hours scouring the Internet for new breakthroughs and conception tips has had the same wish: For a clear-cut, easy-to-follow program that would guarantee a healthy pregnancy. Unfortunately, a simple do-it-yourself plan doesn’t exist, but fertility specialists and women’s health experts agree that certain measures can at least help to create the best possible chances for fertilization to occur.
We went straight to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, for her top tips to help the cause. But instead of telling us what women should do, she shared what they shouldn't do--and what they should give up to help potentially promote fertility.
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- Caffeine. As the daily substance of choice for most Americans, dependency on those morning cups of coffee or afternoon soft drink is difficult to break. But even if caffeine’s link to fertility isn’t universally confirmed, reputable studies exist that suggest caffeine – especially in excess – can stunt the maturation of an egg or increase the chances of a miscarriage. If giving up your cup of morning joe can help you get pregnant, the sacrifice is worth it.
- Alcohol. Studies focusing on alcohol’s effect on conception have produced mixed results, with some indicating that pregnancy is more likely if women give up drinking entirely and others suggesting that those who drink moderately might increase their chances of conception – perhaps because an occasional glass of wine makes them more relaxed. But experts agree that women who give up alcohol will increase their chances of a healthy baby once conception does happen, and that alone is reason enough for most women to quit.
- Tobacco. Unlike alcohol, the data smoking’s correlation to pregnancy is undisputed. Both primary and secondhand smoke are detrimental to a woman’s chance of conceiving and to a developing fetus as well. Quitting is never easy, but resources and support to help you find a plan and stick to it.
- Your Spot on the Couch. In other words, get up and move around! Couch potatoes aren’t helping any aspect of their health, but women who are trying to conceive have an extra-compelling reason to kick it into high gear. Experts agree that women who stay within their ideal weight have a better chance of becoming pregnant, and a recent study by Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that women who exercise 30 minutes or more a day had a reduced risk of ovulation disorders, which often lead to infertility.
- Junk Food. Generally speaking, any change that moves you toward a healthier lifestyle will promote fertility. But when it comes to diet, advice seems to fall all over the map. Specific fertility diets advocate for eating foods like oysters, garlic and yams, but an extensive 2009 study advised women to follow simpler guidelines – healthy fats, selective proteins, whole grains and plenty of iron and other vitamins. The sooner you can start taking a prenatal vitamin with sufficient folic acid like OB Complete One, the better! And, obviously, putting down the potato chips and the candy bars is an excellent first step to take to help you get pregnant this year.
- Excessive Stress. Granted, this step is easier said than done, especially when the chief cause of the stress is the infertility itself. But if external factors are causing undue anxiety, a women’s chance at conception can decrease, and the stress of waiting for that positive pregnancy test month after month could be the last straw for her emotional health. Give up extra responsibilities whenever possible, talk to your boss about reducing your job stress and work in regular “mental health” days to be refreshed by activities and people you enjoy.
This is not a sponsored post. Tips were provided by