The biological clock has been ticking, and you and your spouse are finally ready to start a family. While this is an awesome and exhilarating step towards parenthood, many couples find that their initial excitement and joy soon turn into frustration, when efforts to conceive do not bear fruit immediately.
Generally, the chances of natural conception per month for a healthy woman is about 25 percent when she is between 20 to 24 years. This rate decreases significantly to 10 percent when she reaches 30 years old.* On average, a couple below the age of 35 years will be able to conceive within six months, with 85 percent of couples successfully getting pregnant within a year. However, if after a year of actively trying, it is recommended that couples seek medical advice, as there may be some underlying fertility issues (such as blocked fallopian tubes) which might require medical intervention.
For couples going through the process of trying to conceive, one of the biggest challenges is trying to stay positive during this period of time. It can be an emotionally draining experience to face the recurring pattern of hope, anticipation, and then disappointment, month after month. It is important to keep negativity and stress levels down, and to remind each other to continue enjoying the process without being fixated on the results.
Having a happy and healthy attitude also lowers your stress level, which coincidentally could affect your chances of getting pregnant. Stress may interfere with the hormones in a woman’s body, which could result in “stress-induced anovulation” – delayed or even missed ovulation. So it only makes sense to stay relaxed and positive while trying to conceive.
Here are some tips to help you and your spouse maintain some sanity throughout this “waiting game”:
1) Bring Back the Romance
If baby-making has taken centrestage in your lives, and you find yourself fastidiously tracking your ovulation indicators and making love only during your fertile days, it is obvious that this endeavour has become an unhealthy obsession. Take a step back and infuse romance back into your marriage.
Plan date nights once a week, spending time just enjoying each other’s company without any other agenda. Be spontaneous and have fun with each other, and if it leads to some action in the bedroom, that’s even better!
Besides, when baby eventually arrives, you will miss the opportunity to have long, leisurely dinners or quiet strolls in the evening.
2) Rest and Relax
Ensure that you have sufficient rest – at least 7 to 8 hours sleep every night, as research has shown that a lack of sleep increases stress levels, and negatively affects your mood.
Find time to indulge and pamper yourself, such as going for massages, or pursuing hobbies and activities that make you happy. Arrange for short vacations over the weekend to get away from the daily bustle of life. All these will allow you to enjoy the present, and take the pressure and focus away from your objective of trying to conceive.
Says Tina, 28 who had been trying to conceive: “Friends encouraged Eric and I to take a short holiday, to get away from it all. Though planning it was not easy due to our conflicting work schedules, we managed a good 5-day vacation at a beach resort. We did nothing but enjoyed each other’s company. What do you know, we hit ‘jackpot’!”
3) Get a Healthy Glow
Give your body an endorphin boost through regular exercise – just 20 minutes of physical activity a day will make you feel good, and look great too!
You and your spouse could consider Pilates, swimming, brisk walking or ballroom dancing, with the added bonus being that some of these activities could continue even throughout pregnancy and beyond.
In addition, a healthier body increases your chances of conceiving, and prepares you for the rigours of pregnancy and childbirth.
4) Banish Negative Thoughts
Try to avoid dwelling on negative thoughts that bring you down. If such thoughts are swirling through your mind, a good way to get them out of your system is to write them down on a journal, and then put the book away.
Stay away from people who pass negative comments about your attempts to conceive. Seek out a few good friends to confide, or keep mum about your efforts otherwise.
5) Think Positive
The power of positive thinking cannot be understated. While it may not directly affect or increase your chances of conception, it definitely helps to keep your spirits up.
Paste little notes of encouragement to yourself around the house, remind yourself of the blessings you already enjoy (good health, happy marriage, etc.) and surround yourselves with positive energy – watch happy movies, read happy books, and hang out with happy people.
“When Martha began feeling the strain and stress of trying to conceive, I sent her SMS quotes once in a while to encourage her. I hid love notes in her laptop bag so that it would bring a smile to her face. There was once I sent flowers to her office just to surprise her. It certainly made her day,” said Adam, 34, now a father of one.
6) Take a Break
Finally, if you and your partner have been trying for several months without success, it might be a good idea to take a break and stop focusing on baby-making for a while. Put away the ovulation kits and basal body temperature charts, and just enjoy life they way you did before you embarked on this project.
Interestingly, many couples have found that after they took a break and stopped obsessing about making babies, they actually managed to get pregnant! But even if that does not happen, the break would dissipate the tensions and disappointments that had been building up, and recharge both your spirits, so that you can get back to trying again with renewed hope and vigour.
* Source: Women & Fetal Centre and Parkway Fertility Centre at Mount Elizabeth Hospital