We all know that getting pregnant later in life might not happen as easily as in your 20’s. This doesn’t mean that with a little knowledge and preparation you can’t make it happen. Getting pregnant after 30 doesn’t have to be hard if you start with some simple groundwork that can help increase your chances.
When I was 35 years old I had just started dating my husband. I was seeing a new OB/GYN who asked if I was in a relationship, and if so were we planning on having children. I let her know that we had only been dating for 3 months, but yes children were in our plans for the future. She immediately told me that I had no time to waste.
The next thing she did was draw me a graph of my increased chances of having a child born with Down’s Syndrome. As if I weren’t already painfully aware that my risks increased as I aged. “Those 40 year olds you see in magazines having babies” she pointed to the most recent copy of US Weekly. “They are using the eggs of a 25 year old” she told me.
I was initially terrified and started wondering if I was in fact “too old” to think about having children. I quickly realized that I just needed to find another doctor. If your doctor is pressuring you into rushing to conceive and you just aren’t at that point in your life you probably don’t have too much too worry about.
Have you waited too late?
More women are waiting until their 30’s and later to have children. Many more than 20 years ago. Nowadays women are waiting until they are more established in their careers. Sometimes it just takes a little longer to find someone you even want to have a family with.
While your doctor isn’t wrong in saying that there isn’t a lot of time to waste, don’t think that your eggs are just withering up and dying a quick death as you sit there reading this. Chances are you have a little more time than you think. And believe it or not, there are things that you can do to be proactive about your reproductive health.
Have A Healthy Lifestyle
A nutritious diet full of whole foods is beneficial for more than just your weight. Everything that you eat will either help or harm your reproductive system. Processed foods, along with excess alcohol, caffeine, and sugar can all wreak havoc on your hormones. Try to limit these trouble makers and stick to whole foods like fruits and vegetables, locally raised meats, and even whole grains if you can tolerate them.
The same goes for exercise. Continuing to be active and increasing blood flow to all areas of your body is important. It goes without saying that the better overall health you are in the better your chances of conceiving quickly.
Excess weight, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and diabetes can affect pregnancy health and increase the risk for complications such as miscarriage, placenta previa, pre-eclampsia, and preterm labor and/or delivery.
Perform Pre-Conception Tests
Do a little preconception work and have a complete blood panel done. Even a regular physician can order these tests from your lab. Ask them to include anything that would be helpful to conceive such as hormone levels and your AMH which gives you a good idea of your remaining ovarian reserve. At the same time, you can also make sure that your insulin, vitamin D, and thyroid are all on point.
In general, the better your health, the better your chances of getting pregnant and successfully having a baby. Most hormone tests will need to be done on a certain day of your cycle so keep that in mind when scheduling. You can talk to your OB/GYN and let them know that you want to take a proactive stance on your health.
Another preconception test you can do is genetic testing on your partner and yourself. Companies like 23andme and Counsyl offer genetic testing services that can be easily completed with a sample of your saliva. The Carrier status test at 23andme and Family planning test from Counsyl will lay out in black and white if there is a possibility that you could pass along any hereditary conditions to future offspring. Pursuing genetic screening before getting pregnant can give couples important knowledge that can make a difference for a family’s well-being.
Know your Body
Knowing your own body is a good way to speed things up, especially if you want to get pregnant quickly. Inputting your last period into an app on your phone isn’t likely to tell you the entire story. There is a common misconception that ovulation happens 14 days after your last period, but that isn’t always the case. If you don’t know when you are ovulating (or if you aren’t even ovulating) then you could be missing the most fertile time of your cycle. Save yourself time and a lot of frustration by getting to know your body.
The easiest way to do this is to become familiar with the Fertility Awareness Method. This incorporates taking your daily body basal temperature and observing daily for signs of impending ovulation. I was lucky enough to be exposed to the book Taking Charge of your Fertility in my mid 20’s and I have used it as my bible on getting to know my cycle. I quickly learned that I wasn’t ovulating until day 18 of my cycle and my constant low temperatures indicated an underlying thyroid issue. This helped me in more ways than you can imagine. If I had used the popular notion that ovulation happens on day 14 of my cycle then I would have stopped having sex well before my ovulation date, resulting in never having a positive outcome.
Don’t Get Discouraged
While waiting those dreaded two weeks only to not see two pink little lines can get old very quickly, keep in mind that not everyone conceives on the first try. It can take most couples up to a year and this is actually quite normal. After the age of 35 if you haven’t conceived in 6 months it is suggested that you seek counsel from your physician on how to proceed.
Unfortunately, the process of trying to create another life can be all-consuming if you let it. It can lead to unnecessary stress month after month and if you let it, even take a toll on your relationship. Try not to question your body or place blame on you or your partner if you don’t have success right away. Daily meditation can be good for stress levels, and trying to remain proactive can help keep you positive. While we have had several bumps in the road, after each one I always tried to find something that I could do to be proactive about the situation.
Stay positive and continue to work on your own physical and mental health. Starting acupuncture has been known to help increase fertility. It also has the added benefit of helping to reduce stress levels. This is something to consider if you feel that it could benefit you. Relaxing and knowing that it will happen when the time is right can help more than you will know, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.
It’s Rarely Ever Too Late
If you are in your mid to late 30’s and early 40’s and are just now starting your family keep in mind that it is never too late to have what you are dreaming of. Take the time to focus on your health and yourself and remember to keep yourself a priority. Get to know your body so that you can pinpoint the best time of conception for you or help diagnose any issues you might be having. With a little extra care, a positive attitude and a lot of patience having the family you wish for can be in your very near future.
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