Can I carry on with my daily exercise?  What if I don’t normally exercise?  Is now the time to start?

Exercise is important during pregnancy, but it is also important to be cautious in early pregnancy – doing a lot of exercise raises the internal core temperature of the body, causing heat that can be damaging for the developing baby. If you’ve had a miscarriage or IVF, please be very careful with exercise in the early weeks of pregnancy. If exercise is something you are already used to, please take advice from your medical team. It is a good time to start building up – exercise will give you energy and help you tighten up the pelvic floor, which will help plan for labour. It is good to start exercising from the beginning.

What else can I do to get my body ready for pregnancy?

You need to look at your lifestyle 3 – 4 months before hand. Check you’re not over drinking, cut out smoking, and look at your weight. Being over or under weight can impact on fertility and pregnancy. It’s important to look at your work / life balance, in terms of hours you’re working etc. Start to build up your energy levels. Being exhausted makes it harder to conceive, and may be due to underlying factors such as hormonal imbalance or thyroid. Build reserve energy through sleeping and yoga. You should also look into taking multi vitamins and minerals, of which you can find on my website. (LINK). Make sure you are eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. It is important to remember that the baby doesn’t just rely on what you have on any one day – it relies on your store of vitamins and minerals. Ensure you have good reserves for the developing baby’s organs to grow.

Why can’t I get pregnant?

There can be many reasons you can’t, or find difficulty in getting pregnant. Age is one factor – the older you are, the harder it is, although never say never, many women do have babies in their 40s, but the miscarriage rates are higher. A common reason can be that you are not having enough sex, or enough sex at the right time or perhaps you do not understand your fertility cycle. As previously discussed, life factors are key to getting pregnant. The dynamic of your relationship can affect your chances – couples can put a lot of stress on one another. Other factors could be

  • Blocked tubes
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Breastfeeding one child whilst trying for another
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Diabetes
  • Anemia

… as well as lots of other minor aliments. I am also a big believe in mindset – it has a huge part to play in getting pregnant.

Do I need to have fertility tests?

It depends on how long you’ve been trying and how old you are. Common questions to ask yourself – have you really tried? Having sex at the right time for at least 6 months. If you have and you are 35 years old you should both (man and woman) have tests. Certainly with some young couples, having fertility tests too soon can over medicalise that couple.

How do I know if I’m ovulating?

It is difficult to pin point ovulation, as it’s a random event. The way to tell whether you are ovulating is a blood test on day 21. The test measures your progesterone levels and this hormone will tell you if you are ovulating or not. Common mistake – if your cycle is shorter or longer than 28 days and you perform the progesterone test on the wrong day it will come back inaccurate. The timing of the progesterone test is really important. The test should be taken 7 days before your next period. If your cycle is 28 days, the test should be performed on day 21. If you experience an irregular cycle, do the test 7 days after ovulation. Another symptom of ovulation is Mittelschmerz, a feeling of ovulation, which is characterised by lower abdominal and pelvic pain occurring roughly midway through a woman’s menstrual cycle. Also experiencing good secretions – while this doesn’t necessarily mean you will ovulate, it is a very good fertile sign.

Can my husband do anything to help?

The common thing I see with couples trying for a baby is the pressure they put on one another. You can both help each other by taking the pressure off. Talking and communicating is key. It’s often tempting to isolate yourself from pregnant friends or friends with babies if you’re not getting pregnant. It can be a very isolating place. Being able to discuss your fears with one another is very important.

Is it me or my husband with the problem?

It really depends. The only way you can find this out is by testing – the semen analysis for your partner, and the female hormone test for you. Results will give you a clear indication as to where the issue is, which sometimes can be with both parties.

When is IVF the only option?

If nothing is happening when you’re trying. You must tick all the boxes to make sure you are doing everything possible before deciding on the IVF route. The IVF option is a tough decision. It depends on age, how long you’ve been trying, if your tubes are blocked, or there’s an issue with male fertility. Sadly, IVF is not always the magic solution people think it’s going to be.

Zita West You can buy a range of pre and post pregnancy vitamins online at Zita West 

About The Author

Midwife & Fertility Expert

Fertility and Pregnancy Expert Zita West is the leading pregnancy, birth and fertility expert in the UK. She is a practising midwife with 35 years' experience and runs her own hugely successful clinic for natural and IVF birth - the only clinic in the UK to specialise in an integrated approach, combining mainstream medicine and holistic health with excellent IVF results. Zita is also a trained acupuncturist and nutritional advisor and is the author of nine books on fertility and pregnancy, including the best-selling Zita West's Guide to Fertility and Assisted Conception. Her latest is Eat Yourself Pregnant, illustrating a range of traditional and modern mouth-watering recipes designed for prospective parents to boost their nutrition for fertility. She has a product range of vitamins and minerals to assist fertility and pregnancy, Zita West Products, and has set up an affiliated network of 170 acupuncturists in the UK and Ireland to promote good practice in fertility and pregnancy. She treats many high-profile clients, lectures around the world, and appears regularly on television and in the press giving advice and guidance on all pregnancy, birth and fertility issues. She is a columnist for Women's Health magazine and a blogger for The Huffington Post. If you would like Zita to appear as an expert, please contact 020 7224 0017 or

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