Motherhood is not a race; it's a marathon. And getting to the starting line requires the same level of endurance, patience, and planning. Whether you're in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, here are some ways to make conception easier.
Getting pregnant in your 20s
If you're in your 20s, you have the advantage of being ahead of that ticking biological clock. According to experts, a woman's fertility peaks at this stage in life. Women in their 20s have about 1 to 2 million eggs. This number naturally decreases over time.
It's physically easier to get pregnant in your 20s, and there is less risk for birth complications--such as prematurity or low birth weight.
Throughout your 20s, your level of fertility remains pretty much the same.
Healthy women in their 20s who are fertile have a 33% chance of getting pregnant during each cycle, particularly if they have intercourse one to two days before ovulation.
There are women in their 20s who struggle with fertility problems, but this is rare. At age 20 until 29, the risk of having a child with Down syndrome is one in 2,000.
To boost your fertility, rid your lifestyle of bad habits, possibly carried over from your high school or college years. Examples of these are bingeing on fast food, soda, or drinking alcohol.
Make sure to manage your weight, too, as being underweight or overweight can affect your chances of conception and help ensure a healthy pregnancy with a low risk of complications.
Getting pregnant in your 30s
Research has found that the best age to have a child is in your 30s, specifically by the time you're 34. Not only are you physically capable, you are also most likely financially and emotionally prepared to take on the responsibility of motherhood.
The risk of miscarriage is slightly higher than when you're in your 20s--12-18 percent as opposed to just 10--and the risk of having a child with genetic abnormalities is only slightly increased.
Women in their 30s have a 15% chance of conceiving with each ovulation cycle. By the time they reach their late 30s, their chances of getting pregnant within year decreases by 65%.
Interestingly enough, fertility experts have found that at age 35 to 39, women are most likely to bear twins! This is due to a hormone surge or an increase in their follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level, which increases the chances of releasing more than one egg per cycle. This ups the chance of multiple births.
If you're in your early 30s and you can't seem to get pregnant even after a year of trying then it's time to see a fertility specialist to find out exactly what the problem is. If you're above the age of 35 and can't seem to conceive even after having unprotected sex for half a year, then it's time to consult a specialist as well. Possible reasons for this difficulty could be irregular menstrual cycles, STDs, or pelvic pain.
It would help to keep track of your ovulation cycles. You can also consult a specialist about past pregnancy losses and how it could be affecting your ability to conceive now.
Other factors to consider are family health histories (from both sides), genetic screening, reproductive health problems, chronic illness, radiation exposure, unhealthy weight gain, lack of exercise, poor diet, or vices.
Getting pregnant in your 40s
Though the risk of stillbirth, C-sections, miscarriages and pre-term birth increases at this stage of life, pregnancy is still possible. However, after the age of 45, getting pregnant becomes even more of a challenge as a woman's fertility level drops.
Nearly half of women in their 40s have fertility problems, says the CDC.
At 40 years old, women have a 40 to 50 percent chance of conceiving within a year. By the time they turn 43, this decreases to 1 to 2 percent. This drastic drop is because this is the age when a woman is approaching the end of her egg supply.
The chances of having a baby with genetic disorders is one in 100 by age 40 and 1 in 30 by age 45. This is the reason why fertility specialists would suggest that women wanting to get pregnant in their 40s undergo DNA blood testing, amniocentesis, advanced ultrasound, and other tests.
If you want to get pregnant in your 40s, you will most likely be referred to a fertility specialist, who will first test your ovarian function. They may also decide to do tests on your fallopian tubes as well as your partner's sperm.
Though maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important, declining fertility is a great obstacle to conceiving at this age. Don't be afraid to seek out other means to get pregnant, such as in Vitro fertilization or surrogacy in order to fulfill your dreams of becoming a mommy.
sources: WhattoExpect.com, Baby Center, MommyEdition.com
READ: What are the risks? Pregnancy in your 20s, 30s, 40s