Can You Time Your Pregnancy?
Melinda Miller-Thrasher, MD
You're ready to get pregnant, and you'd love to time it just right so that your baby is born when it's best for you.
If you're hoping to get pregnant around your work schedule, the seasons, or even your sister's wedding, you should know these six things:
1. Getting Pregnant on Cue Is Tricky
You'll have much better luck if you give yourself a few months to get pregnant, rather than pinning your hopes on one particular month.
Most couples -- 85% -- get pregnant within a year of trying, but only about 8% to 10% do in a given month, notes ob-gyn professor Vicki Mendiratta, MD, professor of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
“Not many couples get pregnant when they want to," Mendiratta says. So give it time.
2. Know Your Cycle for Better Chances
It helps to know when you ovulate. A woman ovulates about 14 days before her menstrual cycle. It's your most fertile time of the month. If you have a 28-day cycle, you ovulate on day 14, but if your cycle is 36 days, you ovulate on day 22.
“You have to have sex during the three to four days around your most fertile time of the month,” Mendiratta says.
3. Have the Right Amount of Sex
Couples who try to get pregnant know that they should have plenty of sex. But how much is the right amount? Experts say having sex two to three times every week is a reasonable goal. You might boost the chances of getting pregnant by having sex every day, as long as the man has a normal sperm count.
4. Decide Whether to Try Early
It can take several months to get pregnant, so you may or may not want to start a few months before your ideal time frame. Keep in mind that some couples get pregnant the first month they try.
“If there's a time that you absolutely don't want to deliver, avoid trying to conceive at that time,” says Mary Lynn, DO, an assistant professor in the ob-gyn department of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
5. Keep It Fun
You might have heard that the best part about trying to get pregnant is having sex regularly. But don't put too much pressure on yourselves. Being stressed doesn't help.
A recent British study found that women who felt stressed were less likely to get pregnant during their most fertile time frame. Try to relax and enjoy the pleasure in the process.
6. Be Prepared for Surprises
Even if you get pregnant when you want to, pregnancy can be unpredictable. Babies can be born earlier or later than predicted; the due date is not written in stone.
“I alert patients that issues may come up in their pregnancy which prevent them from delivering on or around their due date,” Lynn says.
Keep up with your prenatal care, so you're aware of anything that could shift your expectations about when you'll hold your baby, at last.