Even though I was nearly 37, once we made the decision to get pregnant with our first baby, I conceived straight away and completely naturally. I then became pregnant again with our second baby when I was nearly 40 – again, straight away and with no medical intervention. In this post I’m going to share my top tips on getting pregnant fast, easy and naturally.
When you want to get pregnant you hope it will happen quickly and naturally, but it’s not always that straightforward. This is especially true if you are getting pregnant after birth control. Medical complications aside, the best chances of conceiving increase when you start working with your body and natural fertility well before you even start to try and make a baby. Let’s look at how to get pregnant fast and easy.
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how do i prepare my body for getting pregnant?
Ideally you should be preparing your body to get pregnant well in advance, especially if you are over the age of 35 as your fertility begins to decrease quicker after this age. I had already started preparing for getting pregnant two years before we made the decision to conceive for the first time by taking the following steps. You can of course start doing these things at any point during your journey to getting pregnant:
1. introduce fertility boosting supplements
Once I reached the age of 35 I became aware of that clichéd ‘ticking biological clock’. I’m sceptical about expensive, so-called “pills to get pregnant faster” and many of them are there to rip you off. However, there are some minerals that, if deficient in your diet, may get in the way of your best chances of conceiving. That’s why I introduced three fertility boosting supplements when trying to conceive:
The first one was magnesium. It’s an essential mineral that is deficient in many of us and yet is a female hormone regulator. It is both crucial to fertility maintenance and has benefits for both mother and baby during pregnancy itself.
The second supplement to aid fertility that I took was folic acid. It’s an important supplement once you do get pregnant to protect your baby from developing spina bifida. Plus, folic acid is known to increase progesterone levels and decrease the chances of irregular ovulation, both vital factors in getting pregnant.
(Note: there is a lot of speculation among midwives that the recent rise in incidents of tongue tie in babies is related to the introduction of folic acid supplements during pregnancy. There is no scientific evidence to support this and not taking folic acid whilst pregnant increases the risk of the baby developing neural tube defects such as spina bifida. If you have epilepsy, however, it is important that you consult your doctor before taking folic acid supplements)
The final fertility boosting supplement I introduced was selenium. Although not as well known as magnesium and folic acid, selenium is a crucial mineral for both men and women when it comes to important fertility boosting supplements.
2. come off hormonal contraception and start period tracking
If you want to get pregnant easily and naturally, you’ll need to start tracking your periods and getting to know your monthly cycle. This is vital so that you can make sure you have sex before and during ovulation. If you have been using hormonal contraception, this may be more difficult. The synthetic hormones interfere with your natural cycle and it will take a while for your body to get back to a regular cycle.
For this reason I always think non-hormonal contraception helps to increase the chances of getting pregnant even before you start actively trying to conceive. If you’re currently on hormonal contraceptives and thinking about getting pregnant in the future but aren’t quite ready, I suggest looking at switching to a copper IUD, diaphragm or condoms in the meantime so you can get your periods back to normal and start tracking them.
I’ve been using the Clue app to track my cycles whilst using non-hormonal contraception since the end of 2014, three years before I conceived Ursula, so the app had become pretty accurate in measuring my ovulation. This meant that, as soon as I was off contraception, I knew exactly when the best days to conceive were and therefore how to get pregnant faster. It obviously worked as my pregnancy test came back positive just over two weeks after I had my IUD taken out! Clue is completely free and doesn’t throw ads and spam at you. It’s also 100% science-based and feminist-friendly so I highly recommend it to everyone.
3. increase exercise levels
Pregnancy is hard work on the body so it makes sense to prepare for the rigours of growing and birthing a new human by becoming fitter. I worked out using a cross-trainer four times a week and had a weekly ballet lesson, all starting from well before getting pregnant and right up to two weeks before I gave birth.
Regular exercise throughout pregnancy will also have a positive impact on your labour and postpartum recovery so you may as well start getting into a routine before the morning sickness kicks in!
4. intentional weight adjustment
Weight alone is not an indicator of health status or potential health problems in anyone, whether or not you’re trying to conceive. Since facilitating Ursula’s baby led weaning journey and observing how she naturally and instinctively knows how to regulate her eating, I have become an advocate of the Intuitive Eating philosophy. IE fully rejects diet culture and all the restrictions and shame surrounding food and weight that go with it, so I really don’t want to write a blog post that encourages you to jump on a diet and lose or gain weight before you get pregnant.
Having said that, being at your peak fertility levels is dependent on being in a body that is able to function to the best of its ability. Being in a body that is significantly smaller or larger than it needs to be for optimal function may have a negative impact on your ability to ovulate.
I won’t discuss what weight I was when I started or finished making adjustments and I won’t reveal what method I used to do it as I don’t want to give credence to the language of diet culture. However, if you think that your body may not be at the optimal size for facilitating natural conception, I would love to point you in the direction of the original Intuitive Eating programme as a means to listening to your body and understanding its needs. You can also get a quick and easy access to the IE philosophy via the excellent podcast Don’t Salt My Game by registered nutritionist Laura Thomas PhD.
5) Reducing exposure to and consumption of toxins
I’ve written a whole article about how endocrine disrupting toxins mess with your fertility by reducing egg quality and how you clean up your bathroom cabinet as a starting point to a toxin-free life. As well as the toxins I talk about in that article, you should also look at eliminating or at least reducing the amount of alcohol, caffeine and non-organic food you consume.
Basically, if you want to get pregnant, start acting as if you ARE pregnant already! Your body is much more likely to become receptive to conception if you are treating it like a space that needs to nurture grow a precious new life.
what about getting pregnant fast with irregular periods?
Irregular periods are defined as those that have less than 21 or more than 36 days between them, or those that vary significantly from month to month. It is possible to get pregnant with irregular periods but it may take longer than someone whose periods are more predictable and fall around the 28 day average.
Whether or not you can get pregnant fast with irregular periods depends on the cause of your irregular periods, how irregular they are, and whether or not you are able to time sex accurately to fit in with your fertile window. Your best chances for conceiving naturally with irregular periods is to try to work out when you are ovulating (see below) and make sure you have plenty of sex before and during ovulation. If you are struggling to conceive naturally and have irregular periods you should pay a visit to your GP to discuss your specific health concerns.
how do I know if I’m ovulating?
If you have a regular cycle, you are likely to be ovulating between day 10 and day 16 of your cycle (the first day of the period being day 1). There are ways to be more accurate about when you are ovulating, however.
There is a small rise in body temperature just after you ovulate and you may be able to detect this with an accurate digital thermometer if you take your temperature regularly throughout the month. You can also look out for a change in your cervical mucus, which may become thicker, clearer or generally more noticeable during ovulation.
There are also ovulation testing kits available, however the disposable options you find in the pharmacy are a single-use-plastic nightmare. If you want safe, natural, eco-friendly cycle prediction that is clinically proven to measure to predict and track ovulation to 99% accuracy then I highly recommend investing in OvuSense.
Although a higher initial financial investment than disposable tests, OvuSense is a highly accurate system that comes with its own app so you can monitor your cycle from your device. It also includes round the clock technical support, free advice and consultations from medical professionals and fertility experts for those struggling to conceive, a dedicated users Facebook group AND a 90 day money back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with their product or service. It works for women with irregular periods, PCOS and other ovulatory issues as well so if you feel like you need extra support in getting pregnant then this is definitely well worth the investment.
how long does getting pregnant usually take?
Most couples conceive naturally in a relatively short amount of time and with no need to seek fertility treatment. More than 8 out of 10 couples where the woman is under 40 will conceive within one year and 9 out of 10 will conceive within two years. Age does have an impact, however. In couples having regular, unprotected sex (2-3 times a week), 7 out 10 women aged 30 conceive within the first year, 6 out of 10 women aged 35 conceive within a year, and for women aged 40 the chances decrease to 4 out of 10.
If you have not conceived naturally within the first year or trying, you might like to go and visit your GP to see if they can help.
what are the best foods for getting pregnant fast?
There are no miracle fertility boosting foods or foods that increase fertility, however you can start to honour your body’s nutritional needs and start to treat it as the future home of your new favourite person!
Moving towards a more whole foods plant based diet will help you to deliver essential vitamins and minerals that your body will need to grow a healthy human being. Here are some of the top nutrients that are essential for optimum fertility and the best foods to improve your best chance of getting pregnant:
As we discussed earlier, folic acid (which the body converts into folate) is an essential mineral for getting pregnant, forming healthy cells and supporting a healthy baby. As well as (or instead of) taking a supplement, you can improve your body’s folate levels by eating:
- Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli, pak choy and Swiss chard
- Fortified cereals and breads
- Fruits including strawberries, oranges, kiwi and papaya
- Beans and nuts
As well as contributing to a healthy reproductive system, sufficient calcium levels are crucial for your body in order to grow a baby. If you are pregnant and your body is suffering from a calcium deficiency, it will need to draw calcium from your bones and teeth in order to grow them in your baby – no, really! This can lead mothers to experience osteoporosis and severe dental problems in the future. Pregnant women are recommended to consume 1,000mg of calcium per day. As I’m particularly fond of my teeth after 10 years of hardcore orthodontic work, I took a supplement to make sure I was getting all that in, but on a plant-based diet you can up your calcium game with the following:
- Milk alternatives – the majority of plant milks are fortified with calcium, but some aren’t so check the label. As they’re fortified there is no major difference between soy or oat milk etc so just pick the one that you like best.
- Tofu and edamame beans – soy is rich in calcium and these are two versatile foods to help you add more to your diet.
- Seeds – particularly chia, sesame and sunflower
- Sweet potatoes and butternut squash
- Dried figs and almonds
For some time there has been a suggestion of a link between low iron levels and infertility – back in 2006 a study found that taking iron supplements may decrease ovulatory infertility issues. A more recent study however has concluded there is no consistent link between the two factors. Although there is no clear consensus on the subject, sufficient iron intake is important for your general energy levels and, let’s face it, if you do get pregnant and have a baby, you’re going to need all the energy you can get! You can up your iron levels with the following foods:
- Green vegetables – spinach (it’s not just for Popeye!), kale again and broccoli
- Lentils and beans
- Whole grains such as brown rice and wholemeal bread
- Nuts and seeds
- Dried fruits
Aah, every veggie and vegan’s most hated question at an omnivore’s dinner party – “Ohhhh, but WHERE do you get your protein??” Well, here you go, here are some places where we get our protein:
- Seitan – made from wheat gluten. Seitan is also rich in selenium, another essential nutrient that aids optimum fertility.
- Tofu, edamame beans and tempeh – tempeh also contains a good amount of magnesium, a mineral particularly important for women trying to conceive
- Lentils – a much-underrated nutritional powerhouse overflowing with good stuff, including loads of protein
- Nutritional yeast – another nutritional superfood for plant-based mamas, this cheesy, nutty powder also contains high levels of magnesium and B vitamins
- Most fruits and vegetables – although the percentage of protein is usually relatively small, if you’re whole-foods and plant-based you’re most likely to get plenty of protein without trying too hard simply by eating plenty of fruit and veg at each meal
Research into fertility has known about a link between omega-3 and ovarian reserves for a long time and, although there is more research to be done to understand the link fully, the evidence is strong enough to make any woman trying to conceive take omega 3 seriously. It’s one of those nutrients that vegans, vegetarians or plant-based people have to consciously think about getting and a supplement is often the best way to make sure you’re consuming enough. However you can also up your omega-3 levels with the following foods:
- Flaxseed – milled flax is lovely in smoothies and mixed into your breakfast oatmeal
- Hemp – I use hemp oil in a lot of Ursula’s cooking to make sure she also gets enough omega-3 for optimal brain development and peaceful sleep
- Chia seeds – again in smoothies or mixed with yoghurt, fruit or plant milk and cacao to make chia puddings
Iodine is crucial mineral for helping to regulate the metabolism, but it also has links to female fertility. A 2018 study of women in the United States who were trying to conceive found that those with a moderate-to-severe iodine deficiency were 46% less likely to become pregnant. Here in the UK, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has stated that the levels of iodine deficiency in the population is at the point of becoming a national health concern, particularly in pregnant women for whom sufficient iodine is essential to support healthy development of the baby.
In Western culture, and particularly in plant-based diets, iodine is rapidly dropping off our dining tables since the highest levels of it are found in seafood and salt. Seaweed is the most common plant-based source of iodine, however the levels of it can be unpredictable. Since too much iodine can cause health problems, the most reliable source of sufficient iodine for women trying to conceive is a non-seaweed based supplement. The Vegan Society sell an affordable multivitamin containing 100% of your RDA of not only iodine but selenium and folic acid as well, so it’s perfect for anyone trying to conceive.
what should I avoid when trying to conceive?
If you’re planning on getting pregnant, it can be tempting to go on one last blow out on your favourite vices before you actually quit birth control. However, you want (and your future baby NEEDS) your body to be in optimal condition in order to fulfill your hopefully-imminent pregnancy, so you may as well start as you need to go on by cutting out on:
- Alcohol – we all know not to drink while pregnant so you’re going to be teetotal for a good 9 months, but that doesn’t mean going on as many benders as possible before that test comes back positive. As soon as you start actively trying to conceive, you should stop drinking so why not start cutting back even before then in preparation.
- Smoking and vaping – again, smoking and vaping during in pregnancy is a big fat NO so, if you’re a smoker, why not make life easier on yourself by quitting right away. Nicotine is well known to cause fertility problems in both men and women so if you have a smoking partner, get them off the fags too.
- Caffeine – during pregnancy, you’ll need to restrict your caffeine intake a maximum of 200mg a day. That’s around two 6-ounce cups of coffee, but caffeine is also found in chocolate, cola, energy drinks and some cold and flu medications, so you’ll need to get used to cutting back on the caffeine kick.
- Illegal drugs – recreational but illegal drugs including cannabis, ecstacy, cocaine and heroin can cause serious harm to your unborn baby and, if you consume any of these regularly, it is vital that you tackle the issue as a matter of urgency before getting pregnant. If you need help to stop taking illegal drugs, please talk to your GP or find specialist drug treatment services in your area. You will not be judged and they will be able to help you find the support and treatment you need to stop taking drugs before you have another life inside you. You can also contact FRANK if you need confidential, friendly advice.
how can I increase my chances of getting pregnant?
All the fertility boosting foods and supplements to aid fertility in the world will be utterly useless if you aren’t doing the one thing you need to do to increase your chances of getting pregnant naturally: having regular sex. We discussed the need to have sex around the time of ovulation, but couples who have regular sex (regular meaning 2-3 times a week) throughout the whole cycle have the best chance of getting pregnant.
Just in case you’re wondering, there are no particular positions to get pregnant fast – the most important thing is that the sperm ejaculates directly into the vagina. It is possible that having sex in a position that allows for deeper penetration and ejaculation close to the cervix will lead to the best chances of conceiving, but there are no studies that prove this to be true.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of getting pregnant and focus on sex purely as a reproductive activity, but it’s important that you keep sex as fun, natural and stress-free as possible even while trying to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Make sure you keep the romance alive with your partner and go on plenty of dates while you’re trying to become pregnant. I can assure you that you’ll both miss those date nights when you’re at home every night looking after a colicky newborn, so enjoy them while you can!
I hope you’ve found my guide to getting pregnant fast and naturally helpful, and that you’re now ready to go and start the process of bringing a new life into the world. I wish you all the best with your pregnancy journey.
What myths have you heard about getting pregnant? How about drinking lots of cough syrup, or that female orgasms help suck the sperm up to the cervix? Fill in this Google Form and let me know the wildest and weirdest myths about getting pregnant that you’ve heard and I’ll collate the best ones into a future post!