Well, the good news is that you have an entire week to prepare… yes, a woman who conceives February 18 will likely have a due date of 11-11-11. Of course, pregnancy is not an exact science; your menstrual cycle may not be precisely 28 days, your gestation period may not be exactly 40 weeks, and statistically, you have about a 5% chance of delivering on your due date. However, why not light some candles, turn on the Marvin Gaye, and shoot for the coolest Birthday of the year anyway? Your next chance for a baby’s birth date with all six numbers the same? November 11, 2111.
So… whether you are trying for a Veteran’s Day baby, or not, you can dramatically increase your chances of getting pregnant by having sex during your most fertile days, taking care of your body, and saying a few prayers for good measure. Let me elaborate with a few (mildly funny) tips for your fertility journey:
- See your Doctor. Visit an OB/GYN and thoroughly review your medical history. Warning! Your physician’s questions will be very personal in nature, however do not omit any pertinent information (to include previous pregnancies, miscarriages, weed you tried in college, STDs, etc.). Just know that they have “seen it all” and address any health issues that could affect your ability to conceive, carry, or deliver a healthy baby.
- Make Folic Acid your friend. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, a vitamin that can help reduce the risk of serious birth defects (particularly those affecting the brain and spinal cord). These defects can occur in the embryo before a mother even knows she is pregnant. Food sources that are rich in folate (generally make you fart- that’s how I remember what to eat): lentils; dried beans and peas; dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, collard or turnip greens, okra, and asparagus; and citrus fruit and juice. Fortified cereals, such as Total, and pre-natal vitamins offer 100% of your daily allowance of folic acid.
- Stop using Birth Control pills. Using condoms, a cervical cap, or a diaphragm will seem like a drag on your marital intimacy. However, it might be the best decision that you can make for enhancing your fertility. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that if you are taking birth control pills, continue to the end of your current cycle before stopping the pills, then start trying to conceive the next month (some doctors recommend waiting an additional month or more). Also, what about lube? Many specialists recommend not using synthetic lubricants when trying to conceive. Normally, the acidic secretions from the vagina kill sperm, however the alkalinity of cervical mucus produced just before ovulation protects the sperm. Artificial lubricants can prevent the sperm from reaching the cervical mucus quickly, so they die in the acidic environment of the vagina before getting inside the uterus (and the miracle of life can’t happen).
- Quit drinking, smoking and taking drugs. This one sounds like a no-brainer for Mom, however drinking, smoking, and drugs dramatically affect male fertility, too. It takes TWO to tango…and TWO to make a healthy baby.
- Track your periods by putting big “P’s” on your calendar. If your menstrual cycle (counted from the first day of bleeding, not spotting) is 28 days long, that makes day 14 (counting from the first day of your last period) your most fertile day. However, if you have a 30-day cycle, day 16 is the most fertile, and so forth. So put a BIG P on your calendar every time you get your period and insert that date into a web-based ovulation calendar for instant conception calculations.
- Watch for clear vaginal mucus, with the consistency of egg whites. When ovulation occurs, your body produces a slippery, thin substance called cervical mucus. This cervical mucus is like a slip n‘ slide for your man’s swimmers. If you examine yourself daily, you’ll notice a vaginal discharge that’s transparent and stretchy between your fingers, like egg whites, on your most fertile days.
- Chart your basal body temperature. A basal thermometer (found in most drugstores for $10), measures your body’s natural resting temperature, and can help determine when you are most fertile… by detecting a temperature rise that occurs during ovulation.
- Use an ovulation predictor kit. Available in drugstores and grocery stores without a prescription (found next to pregnancy tests), ovulation predictor kits can detect when your LH, or luteinizing hormone, surges. This generally occurs 36 hours before ovulation, so when you have an LH surge, you get a positive result on your testing stick, and then you know it’s time to get down to business. How does it work exactly? A “kit” holds several testing sticks. Therefore, you can plan to pee on a stick every day at the same time, starting on day 11 of your cycle. The major drawback with predictor kits? They can be expensive, especially if you use them month after month and surge later than expected (using more sticks than expected).
- Ditch the tighty whities. Make sure your man knows that sperm count drops — sometimes drastically — when the testicles are constricted or overheated (sperm is meant to be 2-4 degrees cooler than the body; that is why his fruit basket is displayed externally). So (if you are really trying hard to get pregnant), keep his underwear cool and loose and tell him to avoid hot tubs, saunas, and long runs (hot showers and moderate exercise are okay).
- Let gravity do the work. Don’t be too quick to hop up after lovemaking. While you don’t need to prop your legs against the wall (though you could), you might want to do a slight pelvic tilt (with a pillow aid) just to keep the swim team moving in the right direction!