Making the decision to have a baby is a monumental moment. And if you’re there, let me be the first to say that I’m so excited for you and everything to come on your conception and journey to becoming mama.

I also want to acknowledge that while this is exciting, trying to get pregnant can feel somewhat stressful—especially if you are hoping to get pregnant fast.

Once you make the decision that you’re ready for a baby, suddenly it seems like all you can think about is getting pregnant. So as you learn about how to conceive, and as you move through this chapter of your life, do what you can to be gentle with yourself, reduce stress and remember how vitally important you are. (Your future baby would agree).

In addition to taking good care of yourself, you probably have a ton of questions about how to make a baby.

Pregnancy wellness class

Before we dive into exactly how to get pregnant, remember that your healthcare provider should always be your go-to for questions specific to you and your situation.

How long should you try to conceive before seeking reproductive assistance?

Generally speaking, we say that if you are under the age of 35 and have been trying to get pregnant through sex for 12 months, or 6 months for those 35 and older, it’s time to reach out to your provider for support. But you can always check in sooner if you have concerns.

Related: Everything you need to know about getting pregnant

Here’s our quick & dirty guide on how to make a baby

1. Get prepared for getting pregnant

If you have the opportunity to spend a few months focusing on your well-being before trying to get pregnant, it can be helpful. Here are a few ways to prep for pregnancy:

  • Schedule a preconception checkupThis is an appointment with your provider (usually an OB/GYN or a midwife) where you can discuss your overall health as it relates to getting pregnant. You can also start discussing all the ways to get pregnant (sex and many assisted reproductive technology methods), and which option might be best for you.
  • Start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects in your developing baby. Taking a supplemental form of folic acid prior to getting pregnant is the safest bet, as the neural tube is nearly fully formed by the time many people find out they’re expecting (around the 4- to 6-week mark). Check out our favorite prenatals.
  • Stop taking birth controlIf you’re using hormonal contraception, be sure to discuss this process with your provider so they can help figure out the best timing for you.
Ritual prenatal vitamin


Essential Prenatal


Ritual’s prenatal is built on an “everything you need, nothing you don’t” philosophy. Each of the delayed-release capsules are easy to absorb and contain just 12 essential nutrients including methylated B vitamins, bioavailable iron and 350 mg of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s necessary for fetal brain and eye development. And since the best vitamins are the ones you’ll actually want to take, these come with a clever citrus tab inside the bottle to make the whole experience even better.

Read more about it here.

2. Decide: Will you plan it?

If you are trying to get pregnant through sex, do you want to take more of a “let’s see what happens” approach to getting pregnant, or would you feel better charting and strategizing? Either is fine! And know that you can change your mind as you go.

If you decide to have a conception plan, then understanding your cycle is key.

3. Understand your menstrual cycle

Your ovulation window is likely five to six days long, typically in the middle of your cycle.

On average, those with a 28-day cycle will ovulate on day 14. But charting your cycle is key to identifying your unique fertile days. In fact, just basing your conception attempts on a calendar can risk you missing your actual fertile days—your body will often show you that you are ovulating through specific signs of ovulation.

Ready to learn more? Here’s how to find your most fertile days.

Once an egg is released from your ovary, it will survive for 12 to 24 hours. That means that it must meet the sperm within that window in order for it to become fertilized. The good news is that healthy sperm survives in your body for up to five days.

This is why knowing when you ovulate is so important.

Say you ovulate on Wednesday at midnight. Having sex or insemination anytime on Wednesday means that the sperm is potentially going to meet the egg during that 12- to 24-hour window. But if you had sex or insemination on Tuesday (or Monday, or maybe even Sunday or Saturday), the sperm may still be alive and waiting for the egg when it’s released. So if you are anticipating ovulation within a few days, having sex or insemination ahead of time will increase the chances of having living sperm ready and waiting to fertilize your egg.

Read more: The actual odds of getting pregnant each month

4. Use apps and tests to identify your most fertile time

Adding in apps and tests to help you identify your most fertile time can be really helpful. As I share in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, “Some providers don’t recommend using ovulation predictor kits right away because they worry that we might become too reliant on the (not-foolproof) technology. If you miss the subtle physical body signs described above, you might miss your window of fertility.” Ultimately, you get to be the boss here and choose the method that works best for you.

If you decide to incorporate fertility apps and tests into your getting pregnant plant, here are a few to try:

  • Ovulation strips: We love the ones from Natalist. Just pee on the strip. If the test line is as dark or darker than the control, you are likely fertile.
  • Fertility monitors (like Kegg or Clearblue Fertility Monitor): These trackers can tell you when your fertility is low, high and peak.
  • Apps (like Glow and Kindara): They allow you to track your period, ovulation signs and tests, intercourse and insemination, and even your sleep to help you determine your most fertile windows.
  • Wearable devices (like Ava): When you wear it on your wrist overnight, this device detects changes in your body that indicate approaching ovulation.

Related: Ovulation tests can improve your chances of conceiving, study shows

5. Read your body’s signs of ovulation

Here are the physical signs of ovulation to pay attention to:

  • Cervical mucus: The normal vaginal discharge that changes as you progress through your cycle. It will go from nonexistent or dry to sticky, then creamy, and then wet, and then finally it will be the consistency of egg whites. That egg-white consistency means it’s fertile cervical mucus and indicates that you are about to ovulate. It’s the most sperm-friendly because they can easily swim through it up to the uterus.
  • Basal body temperature: If you’re taking your temperature every day to chart your cycle using a fertility app or chart, you’ll notice that just as you ovulate, you may see a slight drop in your basal body temperature, followed by an increase.
  • Cervical position: If you’re up for doing your own vaginal exam, you might note that your cervix is softer, higher and more open around the time of ovulation.

You may also experience slight pain/cramping, breast tenderness, spotting and an increased interest in sex around your ovulation window.

Related: 17 very early signs of pregnancy (before a positive test!)

couple looking lovingly at each other - how to make a baby picture

6. Have sex or plan your insemination

If you are trying to get pregnant via sex, and you’re not tracking ovulation, have sex every other day all month long. If you are tracking ovulation, and your partner has an average or high sperm count, you can have sex every day in your fertile window. If they have a low sperm count, have sex every other day in order to boost the sperm concentration in the ejaculate (your provider can help you determine what your partner’s sperm count is).

One note: Sperm is healthiest when ejaculation happens every two to three days, so encourage your partner or sperm donor not to wait too many days between orgasms. He may also want to start filling up on fertility foods to boost sperm count and quality.

If you are trying to get pregnant via assisted reproductive technologies, your provider will likely be the one to help you time your appointments. If you are doing at-home insemination, using the apps and monitors above in addition to watching your ovulation signs will help you determine when it’s time.

7. Keep these pointers in mind when trying to make a baby

  • Do what feels right: Know that it’s a myth that any specific sexual position will improve your chances of conception.
  • However, do try for an orgasm: “Orgasm can stimulate uterine contractions, which may help to promote sperm transport through the reproductive tract,” says Dr. Sanaz Ghazal, co-founder and medical director of RISE Fertility, and a double-certified fertility specialist.
  • If you use lube, be sure it’s one that won’t inhibit conception: “Some vaginal lubricants can actually decrease fertility by having adverse effects on the sperm. Over-the-counter water-based lubricants like Astroglide, K-Y Jelly and K-Y Touch can decrease sperm motility by as much as 60% to 100%,” says Dr. Ghazal. Instead, choose lubricants that are sperm-safe, like Pre-Seed.

8. Have fun with baby making!

I have a love-hate relationship with this piece of advice. Trying to get pregnant can become a bit stressful, and it’s OK to admit it. That said, see if you can find ways to make the process as enjoyable as possible. Take care of yourself and each other if you are partnered. Don’t force yourself to do anything that doesn’t feel right.

Ready to know for sure? Here are a couple pregnancy tests we recommend!

Natalist Pregnancy Tests


Pregnancy Test (Pack of 4)


Clinically proven to be over 99% accurate (when used up to 3 days before your expected period), Natalist’s clear and easy to use pregnancy tests were clearly developed by a team of moms. Their instructions are to the point, the packaging is discreet and beautiful and as the only certified plastic neutral pregnancy test on the market, they take care of Mother Earth as well.

(Price is for a box of 4)

Screen Shot 2022 05 12 at 6.48.43 PM Motherly

Labcorp On Demand

Pregnancy Blood Test


If you’re high risk, using fertility treatments or seeking an answer earlier than would show up on a traditional urine test, you may be considering a blood test instead. Through Labcorp On Demand you can access pregnancy blood tests, no doctor visit required. Simply purchase through their website and visit one of their 2,000+ locations around the US (many in Walgreens!) for your sample collection. Easy-to-read results show up online in your Labcorp OnDemand account as soon as possible. (Note that Labcorp does not currently offer locations for sample collection in HI, ME, ND, or VT but if you’re willing to travel for sample collection, you can still purchase!)

Embracing the journey to parenthood involves a blend of excitement, anticipation, and, sometimes, a bit of uncertainty. As you step into this new chapter, focusing on the love and connection that brought you to this point can serve as a comforting foundation. Remember, creating life is a profound journey, and every couple’s path is beautifully unique.

Exploring the joys of preparing for a baby, from envisioning your future family to nurturing your relationship with your partner, adds depth to this significant life event. Celebrating each small step towards becoming parents can help keep the journey light-hearted and filled with joy.

While the process of making babies comes naturally to some, for others, it may require patience and persistence. Emphasizing mutual support, open communication, and shared experiences can strengthen your bond with your partner during this time.

Additionally, fostering a supportive community, whether through friends, family, or online groups, can offer invaluable encouragement and wisdom. Sharing experiences and tips with others who are also on the path to parenthood can provide comfort and a sense of camaraderie.

Ultimately, the journey to creating a new life is as much about strengthening your relationship and fostering love as it is about the biological aspects of conception. By focusing on the love that brings you together and the future you’re excited to build, you can navigate this journey with grace and joy, no matter what twists and turns come your way.

Remember, while the focus is often on the end goal of holding your baby in your arms, the journey there is filled with moments of love, learning, and growth that are equally precious. Cherish these steps, support each other, and keep your hearts open to the wonder of creating life.

If you want to learn more about how to make a baby visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

FAQ: Navigating the Journey of Making Babies

How often should we try to conceive to increase our chances of getting pregnant?

To maximize your chances of conception, engaging in intercourse every other day around the time of ovulation is recommended. This frequency ensures that sperm are available when the egg is released.

Can lifestyle changes improve our chances of getting pregnant?

Yes, adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly improve your chances of conceiving. This includes eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption.

How can we track ovulation to improve our chances of making a baby?

Ovulation can be tracked using several methods, including monitoring changes in basal body temperature, observing cervical mucus, and using ovulation predictor kits. Apps and wearable devices can also assist in identifying your most fertile days.

Are there any specific foods or supplements we should consider to boost fertility?

While no specific food guarantees increased fertility, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can support overall reproductive health. Taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid is also recommended to prepare for pregnancy.

What if we are having trouble getting pregnant?

If you’re under 35 and have been trying to conceive for over a year, or if you’re 35 and older and have been trying for six months without success, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare provider. They can offer guidance, perform tests to identify any underlying issues, and discuss potential fertility treatments.

How important is emotional well-being during the process of trying to conceive?

Emotional well-being is incredibly important when trying to conceive. High stress levels can affect fertility, so finding ways to manage stress through relaxation techniques, exercise, or counseling can be beneficial for both partners.

Is there anything we should avoid when trying to get pregnant?

It’s best to avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to environmental toxins. Additionally, certain medications and excessive caffeine intake may affect fertility, so discuss these with your healthcare provider.

Can regular exercise impact our chances of getting pregnant?

Regular, moderate exercise can improve fertility by maintaining a healthy weight and reducing stress. However, excessively intense exercise might negatively affect fertility, so finding a balanced routine is key.

A version of this story was originally posted on January 16, 2020. It has been updated.