The decision to ‘try’ for a baby may come after days, weeks or months of discussion, or may come out of the blue. Considering the fairly minimal effort which could take place in the actual act of procreation, it seems strange that we refer to this as ‘trying’. Rather, it is the beginning ofthe long journey to becoming a family and has the potential to bring you as a couple into a new phase of your relationship. Sharing hopes, expectations and worries at this stage can help you to ensure that this is a journey you make side by side.
In beginning to think about creating a baby, not only are we hoping to conceive but also facing our own conceptions about pregnancy and parenthood. Ovaries and sperm come to represent an imaginary baby way before fertilisation occurs. A woman’s body suddenly becomes a potential home for a growing embryo, and in turn it feels more important to look after that body better than before. While there are well known guidelines on diet and health, particularly cutting out alcohol and cigarettes, there may have already been many times a woman has tried to cut down on rich French cheeses and that second glass of wine on a work night! We are told to start preparing our bodies for conception three months before ‘trying’ for a baby. This is the beginning of the multitude of conflicting information women can receive during pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Of course, this can also lead to feelings of guilt when you don’t wash your lettuce quite as thoroughly as you’d have liked, and feelings of responsibility if you don’t become pregnant immediately. While it makes sense to follow medical advice as much as possible, trying to conceive a baby can be a time of anticipation and joy, and putting too much pressure on yourself to ‘get it right’ can detract from that.
For many, conception can be a time of enormous strain, particularly when things don’t go according to plan. Don’t forget that many doctors won’t be worried about your fertility unless you have been having unprotected sex for a year, at least once a week. In the first month or so, the vast majority of couples are more likely not to get pregnant than to conceive. About 85% of couples will conceive within a year, although there may be many factors which could delay conception.
If you find that conceiving is taking longer than you want, it can be tempting to begin living your life around ovulation calendars. Not only can this raise your anxiety levels, ironically making it even harder to conceive, but sex can begin to feel like a chore when it must be timetabled, with each partner starting to feel more like breeding cattle than equal members of an intimate relationship. If this sounds familiar, have a break and remember it’s not your fault. Go away for the weekend, talk about anything other than babies and stay away from any pregnant friends. Get to know each other again and remember how special your relationship is when it’s just the two of you. It may not be the two of you for long!
If you need support around fertility, you may wish to contact the British Infertility Counselling Association (http://www.bica.net) and check out the UK Infertility Network (http://www.infertilitynetworkuk.com)