Getting pregnant naturally isn't always a walk in the park. For many, it takes time, patience, and commitment.
As a woman, finding this out can make you feel really broken (which, by the way, you most certainly are not), but you can start preparing yourself for pregnancy earlier than you think.
So, if you’re edging closer to the idea of trying to conceive (#TTC), we’ve created this guide for you on how to get pregnant. No messing around, just science-backed information that debunks some of the biggest myths around getting pregnant the ol’ natural way.
A recipe for natural pregnancy
Sorry to go all textbook science on you straight up, but if you want to conceive naturally, there are a few things your reproductive system needs to check off first.
- A healthy egg needs to be released (i.e. ovulated)
- That egg needs to navigate its way to an open and healthy fallopian tube
- One strong sperm swimmer needs to reach this egg in time and break through its outer layer to fertilise it
- The egg needs to develop into an embryo, which then attaches itself to the lining of the uterus
- The uterus has to be able to receive the embryo and provide the nutrients needed for it to develop into a baby
How to get pregnant: A checklist for when you're #TTC
Getting pregnant should be an exciting time, but it can often be confusing and stressful.
That's exactly why we've created our Conception Checklist. Developed by our fertility specialists, this is a custom checklist made just for you and designed to take the stress out of planning for a family, so that you can enjoy the journey rather than get lost in it.
You can easily access your personalised plan for free, but there are a few things you can start ticking off right away.
Get your mind in a good place
You're going to feel lots of emotions when you start preparing for pregnancy, and that's super normal. It is, after all, a decision that affects many parts of your life; your body, your relationships, your daily routine, and your bank account.
While change can be a wonderful thing, it's also easy to fear it, and you may get into a tough emotional place during pregnancy, especially if you’ve had anxiety or depression before.
If you need some help coping with this, we recommend starting with 2 actions:
- Know what to expect: We believe strength comes with knowledge. Knowing what to expect and hearing other people’s stories about their fertility and pregnancy journeys will help to ease any uncertainty you might be feeling as you move into this new stage in your life.
- Get support: Wanting or needing support from other people — whether it’s from your close friends, family, or professional help — is as human as pregnancy is. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious, we recommend working with a psychologist to talk through your emotions and fears. And remember, you’re not alone in this journey.
Get off your contraception
If you've been on the pill or some other form of contraception for years, you might be wondering if this has impacted your chances of getting pregnant.
Long story short, it hasn't. A comprehensive review of studies found that birth control use doesn't negatively impact fertility — but there is a catch .
Condoms and diaphragms
Easy to take on and off, condoms and diaphragms act as a barrier to pregnancy, without shaking up your hormones. As there are no hormones to re-balance, it’s highly unlikely that either of these methods will have any impact on your fertility.
If you’re taking any hormonal contraception — like the pill, IUD, patch, ring, or implant — then you should know that these methods are designed to change your oestrogen and progesterone hormone levels.
They trick your body by either suppressing ovulation or changing the environment of your uterus, making it much harder to prime it for pregnancy.
However, their effects are reversible once you stop using them, and on average, your ovulation cycle will be back to normal between 1 week to 3 months.
The shot (a.k.a the exception)
We do want to point out that the shot, also known as Depo-Provera, is the one outlier and the biggest disrupter to your hormones. With a higher dose of hormones per shot compared to other hormonal contraception options, it can take longer for your body to adjust back to normal operation.
On average, women who use Depo-Provera wait around 5 months for normal fertility to resume after they’ve had their last injection. While it’s rare, sometimes it could be up to 18 months.
Get a pre-conception check
It's a good idea to be proactive with testing your fertility, and Kin's Fertility Hormone Test can help here.
The process is easy. You start by ordering your test and after getting your blood tests, you have an online consult with a practitioner who will give you a clearer picture of your ovarian reserve, the regularity of your ovulation, and other aspects of your fertility, so you can move forward with as much information as possible.
Get physically ready to create a human
A healthy lifestyle can go a long way when you're #TTC and there are a few simple changes you can make:
Reduce stress in your life
Some research has shown that stress may negatively affect fertility . While knowing that alone can make you feel even more stressed, do your best to relax and have fun along your conception journey.
Practice yoga, try meditating, spend some time outdoors, reach out to a friend — whatever helps you unwind.
No, you don’t have to run marathons, but this is a great time to practice some self-care and get into a solid exercise routine. Doctors recommend at least half an hour of exercise, 3 days a week, so try to fit that into your weekly schedule.
This will not only help you maintain a healthy weight but improve your general health and well-being as well. As a result, you improve your chances of conceiving naturally, while also reducing the risk of complications during pregnancy.
This is non-negotiable. Why? It is well-researched that smoking can decrease your chances of pregnancy by more than 50%, and the chemicals in the smoke can cause birth defects in children .
Honestly, it's not worth it. Quitting smoking will be good for both you and your future baby, so here’s your motivation to do it.
It’s safest not to drink alcohol when trying to conceive during your fertile window.
If you conceive, but don’t realise it and continue to drink, the results can be harmful, putting you at higher risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and a range of physical, cognitive, and developmental problems in the child.
Start taking a prenatal supplement
You need to consume higher amounts of vitamins and nutrients when you're pregnant, but between nausea and odd cravings, it can be hard to meet these nutritional needs even if you do your best to eat a balanced, healthy diet.
That's where a prenatal supplement can really do you a solid. When everything seems to be coming back up, you can rely on prenatal supplements to give you the additional nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Our advice is that you start taking a prenatal vitamin 3 months before you start trying to conceive.
Here's why: you, like many others, may not realise you're pregnant until well into your first trimester. By that point, a great deal of foetal development has already taken place (we're talking fingernail kinda development).
So if you start taking a daily prenatal before you're actually pregnant, you're basically creating a nutritional haven for you and your bub.
Sex scheduling is a thing
Alright, so we know sex scheduling can seem like a real buzz kill, but you're not here to spice up your sex life. You're here to learn how to get baby business done.
And the fact is, you can only get pregnant during certain days in your cycle; not all month long.
To effectively conceive, you need to schedule sex on the days leading up to and around ovulation. This is your fertile window and it usually happens 3-5 days before you ovulate until 24 hours after.
The science behind ovulation
Every month, you have several follicles (which look like small, fluid-filled sacs) that are recruited to prepare an egg.
Once one of the follicles reaches maturity, your body releases oestrogen. The oestrogen triggers a surge in the luteinizing hormone (LH), signalling your ovaries to release the dominant egg.
The egg then travels to your fallopian tube, where it waits up to 24 hours to be acquainted with one lucky sperm to fertilise it. If it isn’t fertilised in time, your hormones signal your body to begin menstruation.
But don't get too hung up on the 24-hour thing, because sperm can live in your cervix for 5 days patiently waiting for the egg to become available (how romantic), which actually gives you a 6-day window of chances to become pregnant .
Here's what you need to remember: if you have sex several times during this fertile window, your chances of pregnancy increase.
So, saddle up because if you want to go by the doctor's orders, then it's recommended you and your partner have sex daily or every other day during the fertile window — especially during the 3-5 days right before you ovulate.
How do I know if I’m ovulating?
Ah yes, great question! The truth is... it depends.
- If you have a regular cycle (that lasts 28 days), your fertile window will usually be from day 10-14 of your cycle
- For those with irregular menstrual cycles, it's harder to know when you're ovulating, but that doesn't mean you can't figure it out
There are a few easy tests to help you.
Checking your cervical mucus
Yes, we're talking about that gooey stuff on your cervix that you find in your underwear sometimes. It provides natural lubrication during sex, protects against infections, and helps sperm reach the egg.
In other words, it's wonder-goo.
You'll find this mucus can fluctuate in colour, texture, and volume during your menstrual cycle.
The changes are your fertility clues, helping you figure out when you’re going to ovulate and therefore when your fertile window is . After your period, you will have a few days without mucus or discharge on your underwear. These are your dry days.
When the drought is over, a follicle containing an egg starts to mature; and your body makes more mucus, which at this stage, is usually yellow, white or cloudy, and can feel sticky.
Right before and during ovulation, you will have the most mucus. It’s stretchy, clear, and feels slippery — like raw egg whites. When your mucus fits this description, you are in your most fertile days.
Ovulation predictor kits
These kits look at the luteinizing hormone (LH) in your pee, which helps your body know when to release an egg every month, causing ovulation. LH is actually always present in your body, but it spikes significantly 24-48 hours before you ovulate... hence the test.
As soon as you know your ovaries are about to release an egg, it's go time. Start having sex during the few days leading up to the LH surge, the day of the surge, and the day or 2 after.
Kin's Conceiving Essentials include our Ovulation Tests, which have a proven accuracy rate of 99%. One box contains 10 single-use sticks, so you'll be able to track when is best to try to conceive. We're here to help you take the guesswork out of knowing when to conceive.
Checking your basal body temperature
Your basal (resting) body temperature rises slightly after ovulation. So it’s possible to know when you have ovulated by checking your body temperature. To do this, you need to take a reading every morning before you get out of bed, after 4-5 hours of continuous sleep.
For the first half of the month, your temperature will be low — typically below 37°C. The day after ovulation, it will jump up, usually at least a quarter of a degree and sometimes more. This means you’ve ovulated.
Your temperature will stay high through the rest of the month and then drop on the day your period starts, or the day before. If you get pregnant, it will stay high. If you’ve had more than 14 days of high temperatures, congratulations may be in order; because that’s a very good sign you’re pregnant.
However, this isn’t perfect. The biggest issue with relying on this is that it tells you only after you ovulate. This basically means if you’re trying to get pregnant, you needed to have sex a few days ago.
So, it’s best to cover all bases and, as many women do, use this method in combination with cervical mucus testing or ovulating kits to get a really good picture of their cycles.
Having baby-making sex
Sex, when you're trying to get pregnant, doesn't have to be any different to what you and your partner are comfortable with or enjoy.
Don't get too hung up on the sex positions, the lubricants you use, or how many times you orgasm because it isn't going to affect anything to do with conceiving.
How many times do we need to have sex to increase our chances?
Myth: If a man doesn’t ejaculate, they're able to 'save up' more sperm for baby-making sex.
Science: Studies have shown that when men don't have sex for 2-3 days, their sperm can build up and become stronger swimmers. However, if they haven't had sex for longer than this time, the sperm loses its swimming strength .
Do: Have sex every day or every other day during the fertile period to ensure you're working with optimal sperm. Couples who have sex every 1-2 days had the highest pregnancy success rates.
Does using lubricants harm my chances of falling pregnant?
Myth: Lubricants are sperm killers and decrease your chances of getting pregnant.
Science: Studies have shown that using lubricants while you're trying to conceive doesn't affect fertility rates . However, scientists have experimented by combining sperm and lubricants to see what happens. What they found is there is some evidence that using lubricants inhibits sperm mobility (their swimming strength) within 60 minutes of lubrication.
Do: Even though studies show lubricants don’t impact couples getting pregnant, it has been found to impact sperm. If you love your lube, opt for one like Kin's Fertility Lube. Free of spermicide and parabens, this sperm-friendly lubricant helps you get the intimacy you love, without reducing your chances of conceiving.
Does achieving an orgasm boost my chances of falling pregnant?
Myth: If you orgasm during sex, you boost your chances of falling pregnant because the contractions help sperm move up the cervix faster.
Fact: Research is not conclusive about whether having an orgasm can boost fertility. As long as sperm is in the cervix, it’ll have a chance to reach your eggs.
Do: Obviously, have your orgasms. But don’t stress out about it.
Does putting my legs up after sex boost my chances?
Myth: Lying down with your legs up in the air boosts your chances of getting pregnant.
Fact: It can take sperm between 2 and 10 minutes to travel up from the cervix to the fallopian tubes, where they will meet the egg. This is going to happen no matter how your body is configured.
Do: Put your legs down and enjoy the post-sex endorphins. Lay in bed for 10-15 minutes to prevent leakage, but you don't need to keep your feet in the air. Your pelvis doesn't actually move when your legs are raised.
Are we pregnant yet?
It takes 5 -15 days (on average) for the egg and sperm to do their thing. If successful, that's when you'd be pregnant.
If you’re taking a pregnancy test to check, we recommend you wait around 14 days after your fertile window to get the most accurate results.
Our Conceiving Essentials Kit comes packed not only with pregnancy tests that are accurate, easy to use, and able to detect early pregnancy, but also prenatal supplements for her and him, and ovulation tests like the ones we've discussed before. In other words, everything you need when you're trying to get pregnant.
But even before you grab a test, it can be helpful to know what's happening in your body during this time.
- After ejaculation: Things happen pretty quickly at the start. It takes sperm between 2-10 minutes to travel from the cervix through to the fallopian tube.
- Sperm meets egg: If there’s an egg waiting, it can be fertilised within 3 minutes. Because of this, conception can occur anywhere between a few minutes to 5 days after sex.
- No egg yet, sperm waits: But if there isn't an egg waiting yet, the sperm waits inside your vagina for up to 5 days for an egg to arrive.
- Egg arrives and is fertilised: Conception occurs. After that, the embryo (the product of the combined sperm and egg) needs to go through a number of development stages before it can get cosy in your uterus.
- The embryo needs to travel to the uterus: Finally, the embryo needs to travel from inside the fallopian tubes down into the uterus, which takes another 5-10 days .
Pregnancy tests work by detecting a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG). If you're pregnant, this hormone will be present in your body to support the pregnancy once the fertilised egg implants itself in your uterus.
Additionally, some women experience symptoms early on in their pregnancy, including a missed period, implantation cramps and spotting, tender breasts, and fatigue — so keep an eye out for these and pay extra attention to how you feel.
Stay strong and persevere
After a few months of trying, the sex can really start feeling like a chore, but just remember, it can take time to fall pregnant.
If you’re over 35, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor or fertility specialist after 6 months of trying, and if you’re under 35, you can go up to 12 months.
Having trouble falling pregnant is nothing new to couples, so you aren't alone, but you should understand the potential reasons why this could be happening and if it's time to look at alternative ways to grow your family.