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Charting Your Cycle For Conception
Perhaps you have just begun the conception ‘rollercoaster’ or maybe you are looking at ways to help increase your chances at conception. Read on – because it’s amazing what you can learn about your own body and even help it to conceive by simply charting your cycle each month.
Firstly, the benefits of charting are huge. For a little effort, you can really get to know your body, your most fertile times and least fertile times. You may even learn to accurately predict when you might ovulate and know the signs your own, unique body will give to indicate a pregnancy.
Charting is a daily activity, where you record observations made by your body, which may tell you some little clues as to what your cycle is doing. The main fertility signs involved which most charts are based on include the following:
BBT or Basal Body Temperature
When charting, it is best to take your temperature first thing in the morning before you get up. It’s important to take this temperature at the same time everyday, with the same thermometer, after three hours of uninterrupted sleep. While this is not always possible, there is no need to worry if you forget or have a bad chart day! I fell pregnant with my second child on my first charted cycle, with lots of interrupted sleep and some irregular time taking!
When you purchase a thermometer, the best one to buy is a BBT (basal body temperature) thermometer, however I know many people that have successfully charted with an ordinary thermometer from the supermarket or chemist. As long as you use the same thermometer every time to recognise your body’s fluctuations, you’ll be fine.
This may sounds strange to some women, but keeping a close eye on your cervical mucus is a great fertility indicator which you can use when charting. If you feel uncomfortable about checking your mucus, that’s fine, however the more methods you include in your chart, the more accurate it may be. Its also important to become comfortable and acquainted with your body, especially as it goes through the journey of conception, to pregnancy, then birth and beyond.
Cervical mucus changes with the fluctuations in your hormones – for example, the female hormone oestrogen. Following a period, mucus will typically be dry before becoming sticky, then creamy, then watery before becoming it’s most fertile state of clear and stretchy (referred to as looking like egg white). This best aids the sperm on it’s passage to the egg. To read more about cervical mucus observations, please read our article here.
Please note that if you are breastfeeding, you may have a lack of mucus production, as the hormones produced during breastfeeding suppress ovulation, which can result in dryness. Over time as your hormones build back up, you will notice more mucus production.
Ovulation Prediction Kits (OPK’s)
These can be purchased online, from your pharmacy or even supermarket. They can be expensive for the ultimate in accuracy, but works all the same for the cheaper brands. They work like a pregnancy test but measures you levels of LH, which indicate that you will be likely ovulating in the next 12-48 hours. Hence a great time to “BD” or baby dance!
This can also be purchased from pharmacies and online. Maybe Baby is a handheld mini-microscope, which enables you to observe the microscopic picture of a dry saliva sample. By observing your saliva crystallisation, this enables you to follow your monthly cycle, determining the ovulation period which appears as ‘ferning’ unlike other infertile times.
The position of your cervix changes throughout your cycle which can give you further clues to your fertility. It may take a little time for you to get used to the different positions, so give yourself a little time to learn – it’s going to be difficult to know the very first time if your cervix is high or low. A low, hard, dry and closed cervix is least fertile, a high, soft, wet and open cervix most fertile. Checking the position of your cervix is best done at the same time each day due to changes which may occur throughout the day.
Charting online or with apps has become very popular as it does a great deal of the work for you and stores your information. You just need to enter in your observations. There is some lingo to learn but it doesn’t take long and you’re a pro – just ask any of our very friendly TTC’ers in our conception forums! For example, day one of your period would be CD1 (cycle day 1). It is best to start on CD1 to do your charting.
Also in the BellyBelly Forums, you can join in on our charting your cycle forum. You’ll find plenty of help to interpret and suggest ideas by more experienced charters. Here are some cycle charts for successful conception.
There is also a discussion about My Beautiful Cervix which is a website where a woman has taken photos of her cervix throughout her cycle, so you can see the changes for yourself. Its very graphic, but a great way to see and understand what’s going on with your cervix throughout your cycle.
All the best with charting your cycle and may it help you achieve a faster pregnancy!
Kelly Winder is a birth attendant (aka doula), the creator of BellyBelly and mum to three beautiful children. Become a fan of BellyBelly on Facebook or add Kelly here. BellyBelly is also on Twitter. Please note that all of my suggestions and advice are of a generalised nature only and are not intended to replace advice from a qualified professional. BellyBelly.com.au – The Thinking Woman’s Website For Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
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