According to Dr. Judith Dallas, gynecologist/obstetrician at Gynae Associates in St. Andrew, Jamaica, some couples will have a harder time conceiving a child than others, but there are steps a woman can take to increase her chances of conceiving a healthy child.

The first thing you should do, before you start trying, is tell your doctor that you want to become pregnant. It is important to make sure that you are well, as it is not easy to treat most illnesses while you are pregnant, with some medications and treatments causing harm to the fetus. Ask your doctor for an in-depth physical, including a PAP smear, as well as a pelvic and breast examination.

Talk to your doctor about any medications you are currently taking, as they may be detrimental to your fertility, or may cause harm to your child once you do conceive. It is also important to make sure that ensure your own health, including regular exercise, eating well, and giving up smoking and drinking. Drinking and smoking can cause lower sperm count, and decrease a woman’s chance of regular ovulation, making it more difficult to conceive. If you are smoking, and find out you are pregnant, you should quit immediately; studies have found that smoking during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight, which can lead to further complications.

The second step in your conception journey is actually trying. Dr. Dallas says that women are most fertile in their late teens and twenties, but many women are able to conceive into their thirties. Having sex regularly is the best way to increase your chances of becoming pregnant; this should be done specifically 14-days before your next period, if you follow a 28-day cycle. A woman on a 28-day cycle typically ovulates on the 14th day, so having sex frequently around this time would give you the highest chance of conception. It is also important to avoid stress when trying to conceive. Extreme stress can affect your body’s hormones, and make it harder to conceive. Studies have also found that stress while pregnant can lead to low birth weight, and further complications associated with low birth weight.

Pregnancy and parenthood should be one of the most exciting and fulfilling times of a person’s life. By following these steps, you are increasing your chances of conceiving a healthy child, and hopefully, an easier pregnancy.

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