Mother and Baby

The expert advice you need to know when trying for a baby

Section: Getting Pregnant
Trying to conceive

Whether you've wanted a baby since you can remember, have been trying for a few months, or you only decided last week that the time is right, when you've worked out you want a baby, you want one, er, right now. And not knowing how long it will take you to conceive can seriously try your patience.

Firstly, congratulations on making the leap and deciding to start a family (or add to it!) You may have spent most of your sex life trying to avoid having a baby, but now you've ditched the condoms and come off the Pill or other birth control, getting pregnant may not happen as quickly as you expect. No doubt a quick google search will throw out hundreds of tips to get pregnant, such as sex positions, but how do you know what actually works to increase your chances as the weeks turn into months? 

Well don't worry, we've got your back in the minefield that is baby-making advice, with proven ways to increase your chances. There are some things you can do while trying to conceive (TTC) to make the whole process a lot easier for you (mentally and physically), your sex life, and for your relationship.  

7 key things to remember while trying to get pregnant

1. Take your supplements

Start taking 400mcg of folic acid now, as you need to begin before you even conceive to help ensure healthy brain function in your future baby. Folic acid supplementation reduces the risk for birth defects such as spina bifida, neural tube defects and anencephaly by 50% or more. Folic acid may also lower the risk of preeclampsia and early labor. 

2. Enjoy your sex life

If you're on baby no.1 these could be your last days of carefree sex without worrying about the kids waking up or – worse – walking in. 

Stop obsessing

You may feel deflated when your time of the month appears, but if you don't get pregnant in the first few months, don't panic. 90% of couples conceive within a year. So try not to get obsessive from day one. You may be able to control most things in your life, but this is probably not one of them. Plus, it's difficult to feel sexy when it's all about the sperm and the egg. 

4. Think about him

Remember it's not just about you. You're in this together and your partner needs to feel relaxed and happy too – try not to pile the pressure on (even if all you are thinking is 'Hurry up and give me your best swimmers'). Performance anxiety is not conducive to baby making.

5. Regular sex

The best time to conceive is one or two days before you ovulate, which can seem like a tricky task to time. But you don't need to have sex every day – sperm can survive for up to seven days in your body, so every couple of days is fine. Work out when you're ovulating in your menstrual cycle, and so most fertile, with our ovulation calculator. Your body may also show visible signs of ovulation such as cervical mucus. 

If you have irregular periods, it can be trickier to use tools such as ovulation calculators to work out the best time in your cycle to get pregnant. If you've been trying for a while, and having irregular periods, it could be worth visiting your GP to confirm that it's not impacting your fertility.

6. Sperm-boosters

You’re probably staying as healthy as you can, but you can also make a difference to your chances of conception if your partner keeps his sperm healthy. That means a balanced diet, no smoking, cutting down on alcohol (which affects his testosterone levels) and maintaining a healthy weight. 

7. Baby making break

If you’ve been trying for a while and it’s all getting too stressful, take a break. Go on some dates or a weekend away and reboot the romance.

The TTC tips the experts want you to know

Whether you’ve just started trying to get pregnant or have been at it for a while, there are things that can help. From what you eat to how often you have sex, get clued up with these pearls of wisdom from the fertility experts that will help you get pregnant quickly. 

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1. Have regular sex

‘Every two or three days is ideal, as too much ejaculation or prolonged abstinence both have adverse effects on sperm quality and quantity,’ explains Dr Sarah Brewer, author of Planning a Baby? A Complete Guide to Pre-Conceptual Care. ‘Although if you’ve struggled to conceive in the past, it may be worth approaching it differently and holding off for as long as seven days before having sex during your fertile peak – this lets your partner’s sperm count build up.’
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2. Ditch the cigarettes

‘If you can’t stop, then cut right down,’ says Sarah. ‘Women who smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day are three times more likely to have difficulty conceiving than non-smokers.’
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3. Forget the Kama Sutra

‘When it comes to sex positions, missionary with a slightly tilted pelvis (i.e. a cushion under your bottom) can help,’ says Emma Cannon, fertility specialist and author of The Baby Making Bible. ‘But really I think the best advice is just to get on with it. Becoming too obsessive can create tension.’
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4. Get weight ready

‘If you need to reduce your weight, do this before starting to try for a baby,’ says Emma. ‘Being over or under weight can both have a negative impact on fertility, but if you lose too much weight too quickly while you’re TTC, your body thinks it isn't the optimum time to conceive.’
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5. Maximise your nutrition

‘As a safety net, take a multivitamin and mineral supplement especially designed for pregnancy or conception,’ says Sarah. ‘You’re looking for something that includes folic acid (400mcg daily), which helps to prevent certain developmental disorders in your baby such as spina bifida.’
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6. Put down the bottle opener

‘One study found that women who drink five or less units of alcohol per week were twice as likely to conceive within six months than those drinking ten units or more,’ says Sarah.
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7. Look after your body

If you’re trying to get pregnant, slowing down and taking care of your body is key, as Emma Cannon points out. ‘Over the last five years, I’ve noticed the exercise routines that women are putting themselves through can be really intense and really rigorous. The problem with this is it floods the body with adrenaline, which can tell the body it’s not a particularly good time to conceive. If you’ve been trying for a while and you are struggling, you need to just take a look at your exercise routine.’
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8. Don’t forget your relationship

‘When all your attention is on the process of trying to conceive, emotions can be neglected, which can lead to frustration, anger and disappointment,’ says life coach and relationship expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams. ‘So, actively make couple time to do things you enjoy and talk about everything other than conception.’
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9. Focus on the present

‘It’s difficult not to obsess about becoming pregnant and having a baby,’ says Sloan. ‘I advise clients trying to conceive that the best way to reduce this stress is to shift your focus from the end goal to the present – so savouring daily activities you’d usually rush through. When you let yourself live in the moment, things feel less overwhelming for you both.’
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10. Balance your eating

‘But don't be fooled by fad diets,’ says Emma. ‘It's a good idea to cut out processed foods, but don't be tempted to ditch whole food groups or replace meals with juices. And go for foods that are high in antioxidants, omega 3 oils and protein.’ Emma also recommends not to eat raw foods after 4pm, as these can chill the digestion and lower the core body temperature.
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11. Find success stories

‘Athletes look to people who have achieved what they want and recreate it, and in the same way this is a good time to look at tips and techniques that have worked for others and find one that feels authentic to you,’ says Sloan. ‘Acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress, and self-hypnosis is good for relaxation.’

How to stay positive when trying to conceive

It's all too common that TTC takes over your life a bit, particularly if you're struggling to get pregnant. Trying for a baby can start to feel overwhelming. It's easy to feel down when things don't happen the way you want them to after months of trying for a baby. Though it can feel even more of a struggle to stay positive in this crazy world we're living in, with so many external stresses, let alone the pressure you're putting on yourself to get a bun in the oven - keeping your spirits up is important right now, and these easy ideas can help.

Stay close

Don't shut your partner out when you're feeling down. It can be hard to talk when you're feeling despondent, but open up and chat through your emotions – he's probably having a hard time too.

Make a list

Note down everything that is brilliant about your life. It will be longer than you expect, and great to look at from time to time to remind you that life is good. 

Have a laugh

Take your mind off things and make time for fun. Watch a hilarious film and boost your brain's dopamine levels: the hormone is a neurotransmitter that triggers a feeling of pleasure which has a positive effect on mood, as well as motivation.

Go out

See friends (even if it's virtually) and let them cheer you up. Being around other people and showing an interest in their lives has been shown to boost positivity.

Get your trainers on

Yes, we are going to tell you to go for a walk. Going out and connecting with nature has been shown to give you more physical and mental energy as well as a feeling of wellbeing.

Try some mindful meditating

Before you dismiss the idea, just give it a go. Sit outside and pay close attention to what you're doing, your thoughts and your sensations. Appreciate the breeze and the sunlight on your face and think about how amazing the trees are, rather than thinking about how things aren't going your way right now.

Make a happiness box

Put things you love in there – like a happy photo, some chocolate, a favourite scent... and open it every time you need a boost.

Support when trying for a baby 

If you're struggling while trying to conceive or going through fertility treatment, there is support out there. Fertility Network UK offer support groups where you can share your TTC journey with others who are going through the same experience. You can also find other support lines to help with stress and anxiety here. You're going through an emotional rollercoaster right now, you're allowed to feel overwhelmed - just don't feel like it alone.

Read more popular articles

The best sex positions to get pregnant

Everything you need to know about preparing for pregnancy

Prenatal vitamins and nutrients you need when TTC

What does a faint line on a pregnancy test mean?


Having worked across a variety of magazines, on topics from food to travel to horses, Stephanie now works as a Digital Writer for Mother&Baby online. 

She loves taking her lurcher puppy Moss for long walks in the country, and spending time with her niece and two nephews. In her spare time she writes fiction books and enjoys baking (her signature bake is lemon drizzle cake).

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