Tips for early pregnancy

With the lovely news from Harry and Meghan, we thought we’d share with you some tips for getting through the first few months. Early pregnancy, especially the first time around, is a very exciting time but it is also easy for anxiety to creep in and many women can feel overwhelmed. The first few weeks of pregnancy can be exhausting on so many levels; emotionally, physically and mentally. No matter who you are you, Duchess or not, your emotions at this time will be the same and this is something I see on a daily basis. If you have never been pregnant before it’s a steep learning curve, and as a midwife there are many common questions I am asked in early pregnancy:

How do I know I’m still pregnant?
This can be a really emotional time, not just because of the hormones but all of the worries about whether it will be ok with the pregnancy, especially if you are older. Before you start showing in these early days it can be so hard to actually ‘feel’ pregnant. One day you experience nausea, the next day you don’t, and new hormones are kicking in that you have never experienced before making you emotionally fragile. The exhaustion you’ll feel in your first 12 weeks, especially having to work and adapt to the pregnancy without telling anybody can really take its toll. Even if Meghan doesn’t suffer as much as her sister-in-law, nausea affects 70% of women which can sap energy further.

I’m not eating as well as I should…
Eating a good diet can be hard in the beginning as you are getting used to what your body needs with when and what to eat. Sometimes it is not always the healthiest of choices with many women craving carbs where they have tried to avoid these foods before. Plus with nausea kicking in it can mean eating what you are able to to get through the first few weeks which is fine. This is why it’s so important to build up a good store of nutrients before you get pregnant.

I feel worried all of the time, can stress affect my baby?
While Meghan is no different biologically to any other pregnant woman, she does have the added pressure of getting through engagements and having the world watching her. Constant stress on a daily basis may affect your baby, so learning to manage stress in early pregnancy is key.

Tips for getting through first trimester

  • Look at what’s going on in your life and what you can cut back on. If you work long hours, try to cut down here, and limit yourself to lots of commitments that can exhaust you.
  • Make sure you have early nights where possible to build your reserves and get you through the next day.
  • Accept that this this will only be for a couple of months and you’ll soon be feeling much better, give in to it where you can.
  • Don’t have any alcohol or coffee in the first trimester.
  • Eat little and often to keep your blood sugar balanced. In early pregnancy you need to tune in to what your body requires. Nausea and tiredness can be a vicious cycle: you feel sick so you don’t want to eat, but if you don’t eat then your blood sugar drops and nausea sets in. When it gets to this point it is hard to quell, so have snacks at hand throughout the day and I also encourage women to have something to eat just before bed to balance the blood sugar through the night. It’s a long time from dinner until breakfast which is why many women wake in the morning with nausea.
  • You need carbohydrates for energy and the developing baby, but for so many women I see they have been used to cutting carbs out and are nervous about how they crave them in pregnancy.
  • Deal with your stress early on. Chronic stress can be detrimental so make sure you manage this. The best way is to practice visualisation or meditation for 20 per day, but if your issues are greater then make sure you seek help through counselling.
  • Take a multivitamin and mineral continuing folate, as well as omega 3. Many women worry in early pregnancy that they are not eating as well as they should, so top your nutrients up with supplements.
  • Nurture yourself. In my experience this is the one time that women really feel they can pamper and nurture themselves. Rest whenever you feel you need to, get as much sleep as you can, and look after yourself from within.
  • Don’t listen to any labour horror stories – concentrate on the positive and if anyone starts to tell you their story, ask if it’s positive, and if not, then continue that conversation post birth!

Pregnant from IVF… What next?

In this week’s Fertility Show, I’m talking about what happens after becoming pregnant from IVF.

Many of the women I see have had years of fertility issues, so naturally they know all about fertility, but not a huge amount about pregnancy.  So once you become pregnant from IVF, what do you do next?

It is important to try and manage your mindset through this difficult but exciting period so that pregnancy joy doesn’t give way to anxiety. Here are 3 tips to help you in the next steps of your journey:

  • Look after yourself: Taking time to rest and take it easy is essential in the first few months of pregnancy. Learning to relax as much as possible is the best way to take care of you and your baby.
  • Take care of your mind set: Try to find ways to stop the worry and anxiety you’re feeling. This could involve looking at deep breathing, meditation and counselling if you feel you need additional help.Also make sure you are registered with a GP early on so you know you have back up in case something goes wrong.  
  • Give into your cravings:  When you were going through IVF you were probably eating good things to nourish yourself, and when you become pregnant this shouldn’t stop. You might start having cravings for carbs and foods that aren’t always good for you. But it’s important that you give in to what your body craves because you will need carbs for energy and your diet will improve as time goes on.   

For weekly tips, advice and wisdom on natural fertility and IVF, subscribe to our Fertility Show on YouTube.

Book now

Consultations are available at our Clinic in London, or our visiting clinics in Dublin and Cork or via Video Conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0207 224 0017 or email us at clinics@zitawest.com

 

5 Tips For Surviving The Festive Season When You’re Trying To Conceive

With the annual Christmas festivities just around the corner, this week on my blog I want to talk about coping with Christmas when you’re trying, but struggling to conceive.

Many couples dread this time of year and even dealing with family and friends can be tough particularly if they have children around. Here are my 5 top suggestions to gracefully survive this festive season when you’re having difficulties conceiving

1.Be prepared – In the coming weeks, you may have to deal with unwanted questions from family members, or have to cope with insensitive comments. To avoid an uncomfortable situation, rehearse a few lines you can say if someone enquires about this sensitive topic. Take control of the situation, be friendly and then change the subject.

2.Eat well – Although the Christmas and New Year period is the time of year to indulge, you must remember that nutrition plays such an important role when it comes to fertility. You should eat a whole range of foods such as green leafy vegetables, eggs, nuts, good fats, yoghurt and beta carotene rich foods such as tomatoes, carrots and red peppers. Of course it’s ok to indulge a little, but it’s really important to also consume nutritious, nutrient-dense food prior to getting pregnant, because you need to be creating healthy eggs and healthy sperm.

3. Reduce alcohol – The fact of the matter is that research shows us that on average, the more alcohol you drink, the longer it will take you to get pregnant. For women alcohol may contribute to irregular periods, irregular ovulation and luteal phase defects, reducing chances of conception and for men, alcohol can affect sperm morphology and motility, and cause free-radical damage to the DNA sperm carries. Although it’s hard this time of year, I recommend you cut out or at least cut down on alcohol to boost your chances to conceive.

4. Have more sex –  The truth is many couples do not have sex frequently enough, and when you’re trying to conceive, sex is obviously key. Although sex tends to become more stressful than enjoyable for many couples who are trying to conceive, it is absolutely essential that you are having sex at least three times weekly during your fertile period because sperm can live up to a week inside you so regular sex helps you ensure a constant flow of sperm for ovulation.

5. Make a plan – Begin to make an action plan around having a baby for the new year. This can help you take back control over things you feel you have no control over.  Is your body baby ready? Are you having enough sex? Do you need to make a step to discuss IVF options? I have seen how despair is easier to feel than hope but have also seen so often hope return once women and couples begin to take back control through planning.

For weekly tips, advice and wisdom on natural fertility and IVF, subscribe to our Fertility Show on YouTube.

Book now

Consultations are available at our Clinic in London, or our visiting clinics in Dublin and Cork or via Video Conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0207 224 0017 or email us at clinics@zitawest.com

The most important thing is understanding the delays to fertility and looking back with no regrets

One of the most common questions I get asked is: ‘How long I have got before it will be too late for me to ever have a child of my own.’

Different couples have different challenges when it comes to thinking about planning to have a baby, and questions like this one are difficult to answer, as fertility isn’t black and white: there are so many shades of grey.  

Having said this, planning as much of your fertility journey as you can is something I recommend highly. And as we end the year, I want to talk about the importance of having no regrets.

One of the most painful set of circumstances I see at the clinic is when women sit in front of me thinking of what they should have done differently. Normally – and I say this from having helped thousands of couples – they wish they had started trying sooner or had sought help sooner. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard couples say that to me.

In helping women with their fertility, I spend a lot of time trying make them aware of the possible delays in the process and the consequences of delay, and how they need to be strategic in their decisions. The reason? To ensure that they don’t feel this regret.

Quite often, women will come and see me at the age of 35 and say that they’re going to wait a year or two before they start trying. I always encourage them to start as soon as they can, because you can see at 35 how you can get to 37 or 38 before you’ve even had a baby.

So instead it’s about making a rational decision about how many children you want, but also understanding the delays and the pitfalls that can happen along the way. Although there are a lot of tests now that can help you gage your fertility, the hard thing about it is there are so many shades of grey and no guarantees.

Women are great at managing so many aspects of their lives, but often not when it comes to managing fertility.

Then they feel under huge pressure – after a couple of months of not conceiving, it’s easy become obsessed about measurements, timings and gadgets, especially around ovulation.  It can affect relationships badly: I see men on a daily basis with nothing wrong with them other than they can’t perform because they feel under pressure to do so.  

The good news is couples increasingly want to do all they can to help themselves. They want to feel proactive, even against a backdrop of having to manage uncertainty.

At the end of the day, I think it’s about looking ahead and thinking how many children you want and then factoring in all the delays in fertility and making a plan accordingly.

 

9 Questions About |Fertility That Every Twenty-something Should Know The Answer To

Whether you want to start a family in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s it is important to be knowledgeable about what is going on in your body as early as possible. Experts say the average woman’s fertility peaks in her early 20s but more and more women are choosing to have babies later in life. So here are 9 questions about fertility that I think every twenty somethings should know the answer to help them keep an eye on their fertility and spot any fertility issues as soon as possible…

1.  Should you care about your fertility, even if you don’t want to have a baby any time soon?

Yes every women should care about their fertility.  Whether they are trying for a baby now or in the future. Today many women wait to have their perfect career, partner etc. and it doesn’t always follow in the order that you expect it to. Quite often, women will come and see me at the age of 30 and say that they’re going to wait a year or two before they start trying. I always encourage them to start as soon as they can, because it can take a while to conceive and a miscarriage is really common when you first get pregnant, which means you have to pick yourself up and try again.

 

2. Does your fertility drop off a cliff when you hit 30?

No, it doesn’t. Don’t believe the hype. Everyone is different some women will have better fertility than others for their age

 

3. How long is a normal amount of time to try for a baby?

On average it can take 8-12 months to conceive, so often a lot of my time is spent managing the expectations of a woman on how long it might take, because many expect it to happen sooner.

4. Should you be worried if you miss a period?

There’s a myriad of reasons why you might miss a period, this can be anything from weight gain, to being underweight, a bad diet, new medication and even stress. If you’re having heavy or irregular cycles often and you feel you have any hormonal issues, it’s worth getting a check from your GP. Also so many women are now on the pill from 15-16 into there 30 and you can have cycle disturbances following coming off the pill.

 

5. Is it normal to bleed between periods? The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of a woman’s period, but this does not mean the first time you get slight blood spotting. The first day of the cycle is the first day of the fresh, red bleed. Any bleeding between periods should be checked by your GP.

 

6. Are apps like Natural Cycles 100% correct when it comes to monitoring your period?Apps can be helpful but too many women rely entirely on them. It’s more important to learn to read your body and understand its natural rhythms.

 

7. Does endometriosis affect your chances of having a baby? The link between endometriosis and fertility problems is not clearly understood and the cause is unknown. However, depending on the severity of your endometriosis, the chance of natural conception can decrease. It’s important to note that even with severe endometriosis, natural conception is still possible.

 

8. Should I be worried about polycystic ovaries? At the Zita West Clinic, up to 15 per cent of the women we see have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The problem is that PCOS, particularly when is very severe, affects natural ovulation. PCOS can also affect how regular cycles are, meaning there may be fewer cycles in a year and it is harder for a woman to detect her fertile phase. Many women with PCOS worry they will never be able to conceive because of it but PCOS is a treatable condition, but many women with PCOS do get pregnant.

 

9. What is the biggest fertility mistake a lot of young women make? The biggest mistake a lot of women make is not using contraception and becoming vulnerable to chlamydia. This is a silent STI but one which can have implications for your fertility further down the lines. 

For weekly tips, advice and wisdom on natural fertility and IVF, subscribe to our Fertility Show on YouTube.

Book now

Consultations are available at our Clinic in London, or our visiting clinics in Dublin and Cork or via Video Conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0207 224 0017 or email us at clinics@zitawest.com

5 Common Mistakes That Might Be Delaying Your Chances of Conception – And How To Avoid Them

I’m always asked about my advice on the best approach to conception.

The reality is for most people, having a baby isn’t as simple as just having sex and then falling pregnant quickly.

With 1 in 7 couples experiencing fertility issues, there is no single best approach that will work for everyone, as each individual has their own unique situation. So this week I want to discuss the 5 most common baby making mistakes that you might be making and how to correct them.

Only having sex during the ovulation period – Some couple’s try to ‘save up’ sperm for the ovulation period, and then barely have any sex at all through the month. Whilst it’s true that you’re most fertile during this time, you can still try to conceive every two or three days regularly throughout the month to maximise your chances. 

Miss-timing ovulation: If you have an ovulation predictor kit, or if you’re charting your basal body temperature or using the calendar method to try to identify ovulation, you may think it makes sense to get physical the day of ovulation — but that may be too late. After ovulation, the egg can be fertilised for only about 24 hours. If you’re wrong about ovulation, you’ll have to wait to try again the next month. Also, as sperm has the potential to survive for up to 24-48 hours, it is highly recommended for you to have sex on alternate days 4 to 6 days prior to ovulation and continue doing so for another 4 to 6 days after it.

Having too much sex – Some couples assume that conceiving is a simple formula: the more sex you have, the easier and sooner you’ll conceive. But more isn’t always better.  If it’s for reproductive purposes alone, having sex multiple times a day or even every single day could cause ‘burnout,’ and the couple may begin to view sex as little more than a pre-ovulatory chore.

Neglecting your own health & wellbeing – To maximise your fertility, it’s important to make nutritional and lifestyle assessments of your diet, work-life balance, your relationship, and also your knowledge and awareness of your own fertility. Mind, body, emotional and psychological factors such as stress levels or poor diet and how you are managing them can all adversely affect your chances of conception

Not getting help soon enough – No one wants to admit they may have a problem, but if you are aged 30 or over and have been trying to conceive for more than a year, then it’s best to seek medical advice. Many couples also wrongly assume that the woman may have a problem, when in fact, in 15 % of couples it will be solely a male fertility problem and in around 25% there will be a problem with both partners.  

 

For weekly tips, advice and wisdom on natural fertility and IVF, subscribe to our Fertility Show on YouTube.

Book now

Consultations are available at our Clinic in London, or our visiting clinics in Dublin and Cork or via Video Conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0207 224 0017 or email us at clinics@zitawest.com