Pregnancy Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Real Mom Recs



How To Get Pregnant Fast When You Don’t Want To Wait

Once your family planning reaches the stage where you and your partner are ready to start trying to get pregnant, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll feel impatient. This is the hard part. Not every woman falls pregnant right off the bat, but several proactive measures may help you conceive faster. The number one thing to remember is that everyone is different, and every body is diverse.

Before anything else, bring your doctor into the loop and discuss all the possible options that are available to you. As you begin your journey, you should also continue the following tips—and feel free to talk to your friends about their conceptions. Just remember to take anecdotal advice with a grain of salt. Just because your cousin Courtney swears that you’ll get pregnant as long as you eat a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and drink a Mountain Dew three hours before insemination, that doesn’t make it true!

How To Get Pregnant Fast

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

1. Make a Plan to Go Off Birth Control

Although this seems like an obvious point, and although it only applies to those of you who utilize a form of birth control, some women don’t realize how soon they need to stop taking the pill or shot or have their IUD removed. Immediately after you cease birth control, your fertility remains reduced for a period of time. Allow it to leave your system in advance of your efforts to conceive. This also gives your cycle the chance to resume and balance out, although you should realize that your menstruation will likely follow the same patterns as before, i.e., if you were irregular before going on birth control, you’ll probably have irregular cycles after, as well.

2. Get Involved in Preconception Planning

Going off birth control is something you can discuss during your preconception planning sessions. Just as the name implies, this process involves talking to your doctor before you genuinely start trying for a baby. Your doctor will go over your medical history, administer tests, and talk about any issues you might have regarding your health or pre-existing medical conditions. At this time, you also have the opportunity to discuss any of the medications you’re having, and you can speak openly about concerns or fears that you have.

3. Familiarize Yourself with Your Cycle

how to get pregnant fast

Getting to know your menstrual cycle is paramount. You need to start tracking your cycle in advance of your efforts to get pregnant because the window is such a small one. After ovulation, your eggs only survive for 12-24 hours, but sperm holds strong for up to 72 hours following intercourse or insemination. Trying to fit into that narrow gap is difficult, to say the least. That’s why it’s vital to figure out the day you ovulate. Although the standard belief is that you have a few days of fertility, the truth is that one day of ovulation makes all the difference. Every woman has her own schedule, however. You can’t merely assume that you follow a 28-day cycle.

4. Take Your Temperature

Your basal body temperature can also reveal when you ovulate. It never hurts to use two methods to follow the course of your cycle. You might have heard that your body temperature changes during ovulation, and it’s true, but your standard thermometer won’t pick up on the changes. A Basal Body Thermometer is necessary, as it shows reads to the tenth of a degree.

To follow this plan, you have to take your temperature each morning as soon as you wake up, even before you stop to pee. On the day of your ovulation, your temperature undergoes a subtle decrease. Over the following day, it goes back up, and it will be elevated beyond your average body temperature until you start your period. You’re waiting for that drop. That’s the day you’re at your most fertile.

5. Try to Keep It Zen

All right, yes, this is easier said than done, but avoiding stress is essential when you want to get pregnant fast. Regardless of how you intend to conceive, being stressed out and full of tension won’t help. The stress hormones produced by your body as a result can actively work against your aims, in fact. Remind yourself that there are some things you can’t control. Focus only on what’s within your power. Giving it up like that is difficult, but only at first. Afterward, it’s somewhat freeing.

Schedule time for self-care, as well. An hour spent knitting, spending time in your garden, or taking a long walk can help you to find your center. As long as you don’t spend hours and days focused on your fertility, you’re in good shape. The secret is to get out of your head. Enlist your friends and loved ones to help occupy your mind and your time.

6. Pick Up an Ovulation Predictor Kit

Ovulation predictor kits are helpful in monitoring your ovulation cycle, as well. It does the work for you in case you aren’t interested in constant temperature readings or keeping an eye on your cervical mucus. Ovulation predictor kits let you know that your ovulate date is close. You basically only have to pee on a stick, but the kits work better when you test your second urine of the day. If there’s any luteinizing hormone present in your pee, then you know you’re just a day or a day and a half away from ovulating.

You can save big by buying  Ovulation Test Strips in bulk on Amazon, like these:

7. Up Your Daily Exercise Routine

Pregnancy is tough on your body. You’re creating a little life in there. Getting your fitness in order might not have an immediate effect on your ovaries, but a healthy body is essential. You shouldn’t overdo it, but making sure that you’re active every day will boost your heart rate, improve your metabolism, and work your muscles, in addition to giving you a leg up on your journey to get pregnant quickly. Pelvic floor exercises aren’t a bad idea, either.

8. Take Prenatal Vitamins Early

Prenatal vitamins are vital during your pregnancy, but you can start taking them beforehand, too. The folic acid is necessary for fetal development, so your baby will need it once you conceive. Taking prenatal vitamins before you conceive will promote regular ovulation, and they improve your chances of fertilization. In fact, they can even help with embryo survival in the earliest stages. Feel free to add healthy foods to your diet, as well. Beans, strawberries, orange juice, and spinach have high levels of folate.

9. Stub Out the Cigarettes

You have to stop smoking once you conceive anyway. It’s more beneficial all around to quit while you’re trying to get pregnant. Smoking leads to a higher risk of miscarriage. Smokers are also more likely to deal with ectopic pregnancies. Smoking lowers your estrogen levels, too, which can mess with your ovulation. If your partner is a man and he smokes, then you should also encourage him to quit, as the habit can decrease the quality of a man’s sperm, as well as the quantity.

10. Ditch the Processed Foods

Your pre-pregnancy diet is critical. Sweets are your enemy, and processed foods don’t do you any favors. Consuming a healthy diet full of whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruits will help your body to produce more progesterone, which aids in the maintenance of pregnancy. A nutritious diet based on whole foods will also boost your ovulation and increase your chances of implantation.

11. Rethink Your Lube Situation

Lubricants make sex more pleasurable, even more comfortable, but they can also kill sperm way before they get to your egg. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use lube, though. Shop around for brands that promise to be friendly to sperm.

A popular brand called Pre-Seed Personal Lubricant is sperm-friendly and can actually help the little swimmers get where they need to go:

You can also use natural alternative such as canola oil.

12. Be Smart about Sex

Unfortunately, trying to conceive can quickly take the fun out of having sex. Try to time your intercourse well, and don’t force yourselves to have sex every day. That might seem counter-intuitive for those of you trying to get pregnant fast, but daily sex is too much pressure, it’s exhausting, and it turns the act into a job. Sex for procreation should be just as fun as sex for pleasure. Besides, having breaks is good for the man, too. Frequent sex can affect the sperm count in some men.

The timing of your sex is more critical than the frequency. Since sperm can hang on for about 72 hours, plan to have sex in the days leading up to ovulation. Feel free to get busy on the day of, as well, but it’s just good sense to have sperm already there and ready to reach your egg on the day of ovulation.

13. Play Around with Positions

It’s time to get experimental. It won’t necessarily help the sperm reach the egg any faster if you lie on your back with your legs in the air, but you and your partner can aim for positions that encourage a deeper level of penetration. The sperm’s going to get to your cervix no matter what, but there’s no reason you can’t shorten the journey. Consider positioning yourself on your hands and knees or think about a side-by-side position.

Now that you have a plan for how to get pregnant fast, just try to enjoy the journey!

Maintaining an open, relaxed frame of mind is the most important thing you can do. Stress is your archenemy. Don’t compare yourself to other women; don’t compare their journeys to yours. Talk frankly and honestly with your doctor. Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, particularly those with folate. Have you heard any other tips for how to get pregnant fast? Share the most helpful advice you’ve received, and the silliest suggestions. You’re not alone in this—don’t forget that.

Want to learn more? 

It’s never too early to arm yourself with knowledge about pregnancy and delivery. Hillary from Pulling Curls is an experienced labor and delivery nurse who created this amazing online prenatal course for couples. She makes learning about birth entertaining and fun! Click here to learn more.

how to manage pain in labor

And don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest for tons of pregnancy and baby posts!

All Your (Not So) Stupid Birth Questions Answered

When you’re pregnant for the first time, it suddenly hits you how little you actually know about giving birth. As the big day approaches, it is normal for fears to set in. I know before I delivered my first baby, I suddenly had a million birth questions and some of them seemed SO BASIC I was embarrassed to even Google them.

Honestly, everyone wonders about the what is going to happen during labor and delivery and many, many people have the same questions. I gathered up all your not-so stupid childbirth questions and tried my best to answer them from experience. My hope is that some of your fears will be put to rest after this!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

birth questions

And if you have a million more questions beyond these, make your life easy and take a birthing class. The best online course I have heard about is by Mommy Labor Nurse, a L&D nurse. Her course is called Birth It Up! and is especially geared towards those who have their heart set on a natural birth. The video modules take about 3 hours to get through and she packs a LOT of great info in.

How do I know when my water breaks?

Watch any Hollywood movie about pregnancy and they’ll have you thinking your water is going to break in the middle of a crowded restaurant or some other equally embarrassing public place.

In reality, most of the time your water breaks when you’re already in the hospital in labor. With my second, I was 5 cm dilated and my water still hadn’t broken, so my midwife actually broke it for me. This is very common!

Still, it can happen that your water breaks out of nowhere at the onset of labor. And there really isn’t any warning before your water breaks in these instances. With my first baby, my water broke in bed at 4 am (thankfully I had prepared and put the waterproof mattress protector on the bed!)

When your water breaks fully, it is a big gush and you won’t mistake it. But sometimes the bag of water only partially breaks, so it comes out as a trickle or slow leak. This is when people get confused and start Googling “did my water break or did I pee?”

There are a few ways to tell the difference:

  • One little trickle- possibly pee. A slow leak that continues to trickle out all afternoon? Most likely your water.
  • Smell it. Does it smell like pee? Or does it smell like nothing or slightly sweet? (This is what amniotic fluid smells like.)
  • Wear a pad and look at the color. If it’s yellowish it’s pee.
  • See a medical professional. They can test the fluid and tell you what it is.

What do contractions feel like? How can I tell the difference between Braxton Hicks and real contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions feel like a soft squeezing or tightening of your uterus, almost like flexing a muscle. They are gentle, irregular, and not painful. By the end of pregnancy you will probably be familiar with them and won’t be alarmed by Braxton Hicks.

Early labor starts out similar to Braxton Hicks because the contractions are not regular and not painful yet. As labor progresses, the contractions get longer, stronger, and closer together. Eventually they will come in a regular pattern and gradually become more intense, which is how you know you’re in labor.

birth questions
Having to stop what you’re doing to breathe through the contraction is a good sign you’re really in labor.

Once you’re in active labor, contractions are gradually become more intense and painful. At this stage, they feel somewhat similar to a calf cramp when the muscle flexes painfully and you can’t get it to relax. If you’ve ever felt that sensation, try to imagine it wrapping all around your waist and that’s pretty much what an intense contraction feels like.

The saving grace of labor is that you get breaks in between contractions. The contraction builds like a wave, stays painful for a minute or so, and then just as quickly dissipates. Then you have a few completely pain-free minutes in between contractions to recover and rest.

How will I know when I’m in labor?

The first signs of labor can be a little vague and it’s normal to be wondering “Am I in labor?”

The tricky part is that they don’t all happen for everyone, and they don’t always happen in the same order. Some early signs include:

  • nausea/diarrhea (the body often “clears out” to prepare for birth)
  • loss of mucus plug/bloody show (if you don’t know what a mucus plug is, you can learn all about it here but be warned: there are pictures!)
  • cramping, back pain, joint pain
  • water breaking
  • regular contractions that you need to breathe through

The last two are the clear and straightforward signs. The others are just there to confuse you!

How will I know when to go to the hospital?

Call your healthcare provider when your water breaks or when contractions are regular. He or she can tell you whether to stay at home longer or go to the hospital.

Keep in mind that the average first time labor is 24 hours long. There is typically no need to rush to the hospital. You will be more comfortable in your own home for early labor, plus you can eat, drink, shower, and bathe as you please.

Why can’t you eat during labor?

Most hospitals still don’t let you eat during labor because of the possibility you will end up needing a C-section, in which case you could aspirate vomit while under anesthesia. Some hospitals have changed their policies on this, so ask beforehand to see if this is even a concern.

Labor can be long (like 36 hours long) so it’s pretty crazy to think about not eating for that entire time. This is a good reason to stay home during early labor. There you can eat what you want and give yourself some energy for all the work you’re about to do. Stick to something with protein to make you feel fuller longer.

By the time you’re in active labor, you probably won’t feel very hungry so you should be ok with popsicles and Gatorade. That first meal you eat after giving birth will taste positively heavenly though!

Does an epidural hurt?

Words like “pain” and “hurt” are relative terms when you’re in labor. After experiencing childbirth, your entire pain scale is going to be different.

By the time you request an epidural, you are most likely experiencing such painful contractions that the thought of a needle being put into your spine will not scare you. Women would not request this if they didn’t feel it was necessary!

In fact, that’s the exact gage I used to decide when to get the epidural. When I was more afraid of the next contraction than I was of an epidural, that meant I was ready for it.

If your anesthesiologist is kind, they will prep you in between contractions and not do anything when you’re in the middle of one. A tiny needle with numbing medication is inserted first, and you will feel the sting of this one but it’s really nothing worse than a regular shot. The numbing medication will take a minute to set in, and then you really don’t feel much of anything when they put in the larger needle.

birth questions
It’s really not as scary as it looks. And you don’t have to look! All the needle action will be going on behind your back.

The whole process takes just a few minutes and before you know it you are laying there comfortably like nothing ever happened.

If you are planning to go without the epidural, you do your thing! I’m a super wuss so the epidural was in my birth plan from day one. You do what feels right for you, but don’t let fear of the needle stop you from getting an epidural if you want one.

Will I poop during pushing?

So, so many women are scared of pooping during labor and especially during the pushing.

The answer to this question falls somewhere in the range of possibly/probably/does it really matter? I don’t think there is anyone officially collecting data on who poops the table while giving birth, but I think it’s safe to say it happens more than half the time.

For one, during pushing the doctor will actually TELL you to push like you’re having a bowel movement. So it’s pretty natural that you will have a bowel movement if you listen and do it correctly.

If you’re asking because this seems like the most humiliating thing that will ever happen in your life, let me just tell you it won’t be that bad.

Labor and delivery nurses see this every day and they are good at quickly and discretely changing the pads. In all likelihood you won’t even notice because, ahem, you’re pushing a baby out. As for your partner and whoever else is there to support you, well they are there to support you. They probably aren’t looking at your butt and they certainly aren’t there to judge.

The energy in the room during the pushing stage of childbirth is really something amazing. After all the hours you hours have labored, you’re now just moments away from holding your baby! I know poop seems like a big deal now, but in that moment it truly will be the last thing on your mind.

Will I throw up during labor?

This might not seem like a big deal to everyone, but if any of you have emetophobia like me, it is truly terrifying.

I attended both of my sister’s births and had to leave the room quite a few times because she was vomiting. It’s a pretty common thing, and your nurses will tell you it’s a good sign if you’re vomiting because it likely means you’re in transition.

When it was my turn, I didn’t really care if it was a good sign or not, I did NOT want to throw up when I was in labor. And the time did come when I felt the urge. I was able to keep it at bay by putting ice-soaked wash clothes on my face and neck until the nurse came through with the anti-nausea meds.

So to answer the actual question, yes you might throw up during labor and this is normal. But you also might not. If you really don’t want to throw up, get your order for anti-nausea meds in to your nurse early on before you get to transition.

What happens if you pass out during delivery?

This actually wasn’t one of my personal fears, but I have since discovered that a lot of women are scared of passing out during labor.

Passing out not one of the body’s typical reactions to labor pain. Labor is more like an endurance test than a blunt trauma type of pain. Women tend to get exhausted, not faint. If you do feel light-headed during labor and think you might faint, make sure you tell your nurse and she can give you oxygen.

birth questions
Statistically, it’s more likely that your spouse will faint during delivery than you. But both are rare!

In case you are still afraid of passing out during birth, maybe it will quell your fears to know that women can successfully deliver a baby vaginally while unconscious.

Will I tear during birth?

Unfortunately, tearing during childbirth is very common, especially among first time moms. According to Parents magazine:

First-time moms have a 95 percent chance of experiencing some form of tearing during delivery, since the tissue down there is less flexible. But other factors contribute to your likelihood of lacerations, such as being overweight or having a fast birth, since the tissue has less time to adapt and stretch as baby comes down; the position of the baby (those facing up, for example, put extra pressure on the bottom of the vagina) is another factor. Having a vacuum- or forceps-assisted delivery or an especially long labor that results in severe vaginal swelling increases your chance of tearing as well.

The good news is that the most common type of tear is a second-degree tear (out of a possible 4), meaning that stitches are required but the tear does not extend to the rectum.

Having stitches down there is obviously not the most pleasant feeling, so stay on top of the pain with the prescription you get from the hospital. You will also get some relief from these Perineal Cold Packs (affectionately called “padsicles” among Moms) which stick right into your underwear to keep it all numb down there.

What does giving birth feel like?

Giving birth is incredibly surreal so this is a hard question to answer. I’m sure it’s very different when you’ve had an epidural versus without. You’ve probably heard of the “ring of fire” people describe when the baby is coming out in a natural delivery, which I can only image is a circle of burning pain in your lady parts as they stretch when the baby comes through.

I had an epidural with both of my deliveries and can’t say I’ve experienced anything that I’d call a ring of fire. For me it is somewhat similar to the feeling of pooping, but not quite. For me when the baby is crowning,  you feel the stretching and something coming through. But on that last push, when the shoulders and body come out it feels more like a small explosion. Luckily not a painful one, thanks to the epidural. Just a crazy feeling of something passing THROUGH you. Because someone is!

I apologize for not being able to describe it better. It’s just a difficult feeling to put into words.

What is afterbirth?

After the baby is out, your body needs to expel the placenta and fetal membranes. You might be wondering, does delivering the placenta hurt? Let me assure you, there is a good chance you will not even notice it is going on. The baby is so much bigger and harder to deliver, the afterbirth is nothing to hem and haw over.

Additionally, your baby will likely be in your arms and receiving his or her first kisses while the afterbirth is being delivered. This is a huge distraction from what’s going on down there. Your doctor will be paying attention to make sure the entire placenta is delivered, but you will probably be way too wrapped up in your bundle of joy.

They might ask you to do a few little “mini pushes” to get the placenta out, but the effort required is pretty minimal. Sometimes birth attendants will apply pressure to your uterus from the outside to help too, which can be uncomfortable but not extremely painful.

I actually have a photo of myself delivering the placenta, but you can’t really tell what is going on in the picture because the focus is on me enjoying my new baby.

birth questions

What will my belly look like after the baby is out?

I know I imagined a postpartum belly would look something like a deflated balloon. Immediately after birth, it doesn’t. In reality, it looks just about the same as it did when you were five or six months pregnant. This is because it takes time for the uterus to shrink back down to size and for everything to go back to its place.

With time your belly will shrink back down to size, but it’s hard to say whether or not the skin will look like a deflated balloon. Depending on several factors including your age, fitness level, and genetics, some people’s skin tightens back to what it was before pregnancy. Other people end up with loose skin that never regains the same elasticity. (And I have heard some stories of success getting rid of stretch marks using organic and natural products).

I am so not the type to take stomach after delivery pictures, but luckily other people are! Take a look at some postpartum belly pictures here.

I hope I’ve answered all your most pressing birth questions!

Remember, the more prepared you are for delivery the less scary it will be.


And don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!

The Only Things You Really Need While Pregnant

Wondering what things you need while pregnant? It’s so easy to overspend with so-called maternity must-haves everywhere you look. There are actually only a handful of things you need to buy for a happy and comfortable pregnancy.

things you need during pregnancy

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

With my first pregnancy, it seemed like the pee stick wasn’t even dry yet when people started telling me all the things I needed to buy.

I was suddenly getting coupons and samples in the mail which made me wonder how did they even know I was pregnant?

As someone who is notoriously frugal (cheap) I wasn’t about to buy anything just because it said it was for pregnant women. Here are the things I did buy that I absolutely wouldn’t want to go through pregnancy without.


For me, it was this Snoogle.

My sister had told me over and over again how I needed this thing and I fought it so hard. It will take too much space in the bed. I can just use regular pillows. I don’t need to buy some huge special pillow.

Finally as my bump grew bigger and sleep became more uncomfortable, I caved. The first night I slept on it, I was so mad at myself for not getting it sooner. It was the only thing that took the weight of the belly off my body.

During my second pregnancy, I couldn’t wait to pull my Snoogle back out and start using it again. It even came with me on road trips because I didn’t want to go one night without it.


Yes, you know you need to keep taking your prenatals even in the depths of morning sickness hell, but sometimes in the midst of first trimester gagging and heaving you just can’t manage to choke down any horse pills.

These gummy vitamins were recommended to me from some ladies in my online birth club group because they don’t taste bad and don’t make you sick. Much easier to take when you aren’t able to keep much down.


Yet another one I fought very hard against. I was determined to only gain weight in my belly (haha, wasn’t it cute how I thought I had control over that?) and I felt like buying new underwear meant accepting defeat in the no-butt-weight-gain effort.

The day inevitably comes when you decide you are DONE trying to squeeze into your pre-pregnancy underwear when everything feels so uncomfortable against your belly. Not to mention dealing with a perma-wedgie.

Needless to say I got over myself and got the comfy maternity undies. They are cut low in the front and don’t put pressure on your growing belly. (They aren’t too low in the back that you are showing crack though.) The cross front design is super comfortable and they actually stay put. I may or may not still be wearing these a year after my last pregnancy!


online birth class


The closer you get to giving birth, the more scary it starts to become. I highly recommend all first-time moms take a prenatal and birth class. Some things might be scary to hear, but it’s not as scary as going into the delivery room unprepared.

Hilary from Pulling Curls is an experienced labor and delivery nurse who happens to have a fantastic ONLINE prenatal class. It covers everything you need to know and won’t scare you. She’s actually super entertaining and will have you laughing along the way.

And you can’t beat the convenience of at home and on demand.

(Not sure if you’re up for enrolling in the class? Try out her free starter class and see if you like her style!)


When you’re pregnant, you feel like you’ll never forget all the exciting things that are going on. But next thing you know, you are caring for a newborn while existing on 90 minutes of sleep and you can’t even remember what day it is.

For each of my pregnancies, I got this pregnancy journal and wrote down everything. Our favorite baby names, the names we rejected, the funny thing that happened at the ultrasound appointment, what foods I was craving and what foods I was hating, EVERYTHING.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back and opened those up and said “whoa, I completely forgot about that!”

This journal also has daily “what’s going on with your baby now” that I enjoyed reading. It’s cool to find out in real time when baby can hear you for the first time, or blink, or swallow.


For the first trimester, to get an extra inch in the waist of your favorite pre-pregnancy jeans, you can get by with the hair elastic trick (demo from Green Baby Deals):

But somewhere around 12-16 weeks your cute little bump will pop just enough that you can’t close your pants. You don’t want to go into huge end-of-pregnancy maternity clothes yet, and you don’t want to waste money on the very temporary itty-bitty bump clothes.

This is when you need the Bellaband, which essentially turns your regular pants into stretchy waist pants. You leave your pants unbuttoned and put the grippy/stretchy band over it to cover the gap and keep the pants closed. This little piece of fabric got me almost until my 3rd trimester without having to buy any maternity clothes, which made this frugal girl happy.


Just because it says it’s for pregnancy doesn’t mean you need it! Save your money and don’t buy these.


I understand why these sell. Morning sickness can be torture and people want to believe these will help.

The truth is, they will help as much as any hard or sour candy will. Sometimes the taste can talk your body out of hurling, other times it can’t. Might as well carry around whatever your favorite candy is. Sour patch kids saved me once or twice.


Really? Stylish vomit bags are a thing? Sorry but there’s nothing stylish about puking and there is no need to pay twice as much for a design on your barf bag.


I totally get the temptation, because the sound of baby’s heartbeat is pretty much the best sound in the world to a pregnant mom. But leave the medical care to the medical professionals. Here is a good article explaining why. The most important one being, if you have concerns about your baby you should see a doctor right away. Using these products without medical training can give women a false sense of security when they really should be getting medical care.


I’m looking over my shoulder right now for an angry mob of pregnant ladies because honestly every woman who’s ever had a child has bought this stuff. But unless you just like smelling like you bathed in cake batter, it’s seriously unnecessary.

Lots of people will tell you these products work, because they used them and didn’t get stretch marks. But these are the people who weren’t going to get stretch marks anyway.

By all means rub whatever you want on your belly because the skin does stretch like a balloon and it gets itchy. Just don’t be lured into thinking a product is going to prevent stretch marks- genes are responsible for that.

That’s it for the things you need while pregnant! If you have any others that I didn’t mention, let me know in the comments!


Don’t forget to pin it for later!

things you need while pregnant

Ask Me Anything Series: Creating a Family Using Donor Eggs

Ask Me Anything is a collaborative series featuring individuals and families that are facing challenges or are unique in some way. People can ask them anything they’d like to know about their story as long as it’s respectful.

The goal of this series is for people to gain a better understanding of those in unique situations. Open communication is key to understanding one another. If you would like to be featured in a future post, email me at [email protected]

Other topics in this series include: Postpartum Depression and Transracial Adoption

This post was written by guest blogger Joanne W.

Ask Me Anything Series: My decision to use donor eggs

Our Children Were Conceived with Donor Eggs

After 10 years of trying and 5 failed IVF cycles, this was our option.

My husband and I started attempting pregnancy when I was 29 and he 31.  One year after our wedding.  Not old by my standards.  My mother had 9 kids naturally, with her last at 42, and my sister had 3, so I assumed my fertility would turn on when I decided.

I had been on birth control pills for 10 years due to severe menstrual cramps.  They allowed me to carry on a normal life.  It had been suggested that maybe I had endometriosis, but I never had it tested.  So I went off the pill and we had married sex.  That’s what people do.  Have sex then get pregnant.  This carried on for close to a year when we decided that we should look into why we were not getting pregnant.  I did some basal temperature and ovulation timing stuff.  No go.  It was time to see a specialist.

I was a Labor & Delivery nurse and hubby a physician, so we checked in with a fertility doc we knew.  By this time (life carries on) I was in my early 30’s.  After a thorough evaluation, it was suggested we not waste any more time and go right to In-vitro Fertilization (IVF).  So we did.

Our Attempts at IVF

IVF is a complex medical experiment.  They tell you up front that they cannot guarantee anything because there are so many factors that go into successful pregnancy and birth.  They can give you best-case statistics and you go from there.  Being a nurse, I felt ready and willing to do this to start a family.  My husband was right at my side.

This is not a story about IVF, so I will give the shortened version of that.  Tests, shots, appointments, needles, IV sedation, and more shots.  Over a 6 week period.  All to get many eggs out of my ovaries—called an egg retrieval.

The goal is to mix his sperm with my harvested eggs, get fertilized in a petri dish, and transferred back into my uterus a few days later.  Once this is done everyone waits 2 weeks to see if pregnancy is achieved.  For us, no go.  So we hopped right back on that horse and tried IVF #2.  Cycle, rinse, and repeat.  Again, got eggs, got sperm, but no pregnancy.

At this point we felt we should seek a second opinion.  We did our research and transferred to a new office.  IVF #3, got eggs, got sperm, no pregnancy (it should be noted: When we showed up for this embryo transfer, all the power blew out in the building when we walked in the door.  A superstitious person would take this as a sign from the universe, but we snubbed our noses at the universe and waited for the power to go back on).

With 3 failed IVF attempts, we got off the horse, caught our breaths, and life carried on.  We found a 3rd doctor, highly rated, right in our backyard.  So we started again.

Seeking Answers

We put our trust in this doctor because we had to.  He wanted a full, complete workup redone.  So I did it.  He found a few things that turned up that could cause infertility, but were not absolute reasons for it.  1) A mild uterine septum and endometriosis, which I had surgically corrected.  2) MTHFR, which is a genetic marker that could raise your risk for blood clots.  So I took blood thinners.

No one could find a true reason why I couldn’t get pregnant, but he offered a treatment of these findings to give it the best shot.  IVF #4 proceeded as expected, but no eggs.  No eggs means no pregnancy.  “Let’s do this again,” we said.  So IVF #5 proceeded.  Got eggs, got sperm, no pregnancy.

infertility disappointment

By this time I threw up my hands, said enough is enough.  We gave it a good college try.  Time to move on in life.  And we took a break.  We looked into adoption, but never felt like it was the right choice for us.  So we carried on.

Deciding to Use Donor Eggs

For some reason we decided, when I was 37 or 38, to go back to our 3rd doctor and find out our other options.  He kindly told us at this point donor eggs were our best bet for conception.  So donor eggs it will be.

We embarked on a journey of obtaining eggs from another human being, and what a journey it was.  My doctor’s office pointed us in the direction of an outside agency that coordinates these things.  Here’s how it worked for us:

–Private agencies form to connect egg donors or surrogates with egg wanters.  You are usually directed to one of these agencies through a fertility clinic.  People who have some sort of healthcare or fertility background usually start donor agencies, but there are no legal standards for opening one.  It is essentially a dating service for eggs (or surrogates).

Choosing the Donor

As an egg recipient we are given a password to log into a database of faces and profiles to try to pick an egg donor that most resembles you or your family.  “Someone that looks like they’d fit in the family photo,” we were told.  You see pictures and stats (height, weight, age, education; medical, social, psych. and family history).

If you think scrolling on Pinterest is time consuming, try finding the person whom you would like to get genetic material from. 

Once you find said person, then you have to find out if they are available.  Not always the case.

We found out that a young woman (18-24) can register to donate, have her photo and stats put up, and wait to see if they are contacted.  When you pick someone from a database, they may have submitted it 3 or 4 years ago.  As we found out, that 21 year old is now 24 and in graduate school, or touring Asia for 5 months.  It means that not every donor is available on your timetable.  The egg donor has to do an IVF cycle to produce eggs for retrieval.  This requires time and travel.  Some donors are not readily available.

Failed Donor Attempts

So we picked one, who we liked, who was available.  “YEAH, this is going to happen” we thought.  Legal paperwork signed, appointments set.  She never showed up.  The nurse from our doctor’s office called and said,  “this does not usually happen”.  We had already paid some $7000 to the donor agency.  They said pick again.

So again, we picked someone.  At this point it was less about picking someone that looked like me and more like someone my husband would pick if he were dating.  You come to these terms because once you commit to having kids with donor eggs you make decisions you never thought you would.

Our second donor was available, willing, and ready.  Contracts signed, appointments set, plans made.  About 3 weeks into the 6-week IVF cycle, I get a call, again, from the nurse.  Turns out this donor had donated through another agency in the area and upon having a workup was found to not be a successful candidate.  This was not known until some medical stuff was being worked up.  So, again, we were let down.

The agency apologized up and down, repeating that this does not usually happen.  They screened so well they don’t know what happened.  We asked for all our money back and they agreed.

Now, most people would take this as a sign from the universe to abandon this idea and move on.  But my husband wanted to be a father and I wanted to create our family, so we kept going.

Finding a Donor Match

We found a new agency, picked a new donor.  She was ready, willing, and available.  We found out that she had donated before and was successful.  In our state (IL) each agency is supposed to limit how many times a donor is used to reduce the genetic redundancy in the population.  It’s something like 5-6 times in a 50 mile radius.  Some mathematical probability thing.  But we knew she had success so we saw that as a positive.  (I know there are other people out in the world with the same genetic line, but I don’t have a problem with it.  It doesn’t cross my mind unless I think long and hard about it).  Appointments were made, legal papers signed, and again, we tried.

Legal requirements: 

  • Each party (egg donor, egg recipient) needs their own legal representation.  We were provided a list of attorneys in the area who specialize in reproductive law.  It is a real specialty and we are grateful there are those who made it a specialty.
  • In my state (IL) we have some pretty strong laws protecting both parties.  Eggs are considered property.  The donor is trading her genetic material for an agreed upon price.  The contract usually prohibits either party from seeking out the other party for any reason.  If some major medical finding is discovered that has consequences for either party, the lawyers act as the go-between.
  • The person, or couple, receiving the eggs is called “the intended parents”.  Intended parents pay for both legal sides and all medical care for the donor.
  • Before going through with a final donor cycle, each intended parent couple must have an evaluation with a licensed psychologist who specializes in reproductive issues.

During this evaluation we learned that it is in everyone’s best interest (kids, family, etc.) to know how the children were conceived.  We knew we did not want this to be a secret.  We know we wanted it to be an early discussion, as part of the fabric of our children’s lives.  The psychologist was able to assist us with finding children’s books that address them being conceived from donor eggs.  Also, our fertility doctor told us he has never had a client who regretted using donor eggs.  They are your kids.

Finally, success!

On our first attempt using donor eggs, we obtained 6 fertilized eggs.  2 were transferred into me and 4 were frozen.   We chose to have 2 placed to increase my chances of having a child.  Our doctor had to take my health and age into consideration when agreeing to the possibility of twins.  I am tall and healthy, so twins it was.

Positive pregnancy donor eggs

Using donor eggs allowed me to conceive a pregnancy on our first attempt.  I carried a healthy twin pregnancy up to 36 weeks, when I was 39 years old.  I had no problems and our twins were born healthy.  This showed me that with enough medication my body could do pregnancy.  I have no answer as to why my own eggs prevented it.

Genetic similarity between our children and their donor

When someone has a baby it is very natural to look for familiar features in her face.  Whose eyes does she have, a nose like Grandma, etc.  I knew I wouldn’t see my traits so I didn’t look for them.  And it didn’t bother me at all.  I’ve never expected to have children with my features.  I am pale white and my husband is African-American.  I knew any children I had, with my own eggs or someone else’s, would inherit beautiful tan skin and some version of dark and curly hair.  We just hoped they would be tall, since we are both tall.  The donor we picked is my height.

We have a folder containing numerous photos of our egg donor.  From her birth to adulthood.  Pictures of her parents and siblings.  A few times in the early months and years I would pull this file and look for something.  Maybe my brain couldn’t see it, but I cannot see any resemblance between my children and the egg donor.  We see traits of my husband.  We’ll see how they grow and if this changes.

A second successful pregnancy

When our twins were about a year old we decided to add to our family, and get pregnant again.  Because we were 40 and 42 we didn’t feel we had much time to wait.  We went back to the doctor and requested one embryo to be transferred.  He cautioned us that this next attempt would use a previously frozen embryo and would have a lower success rate.  But much like previously frozen chicken, there was not much difference.  I took my meds, embryo placed, and I carried a healthy pregnancy to 41 weeks.  I was 41 years old.  Our 3rd child is happy and healthy.

Having twins was/is a wild adventure.  And having 3 kids in 2 years is a game changer.  That is another discussion for another day.

I successfully conceived and carried 3 children using donor eggs.  In hindsight, I wish we had gone this route 8 years earlier, after 2 failed IVF cycles.  I feel we wasted too much time “trying” with my eggs.  You don’t know what you’re in until you’re out of it.  No one could make that decision for us.

Explaining their conception

In the future I plan on sharing our story with our children.  They are currently 5,5,& 3.  We have already started reading the children’s books about egg donation so it is a normal idea.  I will show them pictures of the donor, if they want to see them.  Because their genetic line is affected I want to be completely open and honest with my daughters.  This will have implications when/if they decide to have children.

Can a child ever find their donor?

We were told that there are websites that donors and kids conceived with donor eggs can try to link up.  The legal parties do not endorse this.  This is for those who are curious.   One party would put in “I am donor #123 from X agency who donated at this time”.  The recipients could put in “I was conceived at this time with donor #123 from X agency”.  If both parties want to meet it’s on them.  I don’t know that I would encourage my kids to do this when they are older.  But each of them will have their own needs on this in the future (think “The Kids are All Right”).

Special considerations about fertility treatments

  • Expense:

Fertility treatments and using donor eggs is VERY expensive.  Even if you have good insurance, fees paid to the donor, agency, lawyers, etc. is all out of pocket.  DO NOT bankrupt yourself to have kids.  We had wonderful financial resources through insurance and personal funds.  We were able to shell out $20,000 + in cash.  Going broke to have kids will put you in a very difficult financial place.  It would be hard to get out of it.  And having kids is hugely expensive.  I do not recommend borrowing from your 401 (k) or anything like that.

  • Time and energy:

I had a part-time job with flexible hours.  My husband had a job with flexible shift work, so I was able to fit this in my life.  Also, I had no children, so I had a lot of free time.   Each cycle takes a lot of planning and coordinating of schedules.  Fertility clinics try to work with working couples to fit their schedules.

  • Unused embryos:

Going into this process, my husband and I did not have a set # of children we wanted.  We went in just to get pregnant.  Once we had our twins I thought I couldn’t do that again.  The workload and sleep deprivation pummeled us.  But I knew I did not want to make a final decision while I was tired.  And then we decided to have another child.

Again, big workload and sleep deprivation, but I did not want to make any final decision while I was tired.  In fact, after my 3rd I decided I wanted to go back and finish with 3 more kids.  To use up all the embryos we have.  I am one of 9 kids, so I decided that we could create the fun and loving family that I grew up in.  My husband did not share my enthusiasm.

The emotional impact of having unused embryos

My parents had 9 kids over 22 years.  We would be trying 6 kids in 6 years.  You cannot have more kids with someone who does not want more.  This hurts my heart, but I know I cannot do that to him or our family.  So, we still have 3 embryos in storage waiting to be dispositioned.  We pay $500 a year to keep them stored.  To me it feels like having someone in a stable coma with no chance of survival.  It’s just up to us to sign the paperwork.  We, or I, am putting this off until I am emotionally ready to accept this position.

If you have a problem deciding what to do with left over embryos, do not do this.  You do not know how you will decide because you do not know what you will get.  What if you have 3 embryos?  Can you manage 3 kids?  What if you have 23 embryos?  Then what?  You have to be prepared to make these hard decisions.  Nothing prepares you for this.  I was raised Catholic but maintain a pro-choice position.

A choice of love

Ask Me Anything: Creating a Family Using donor eggs

Choosing to start a family using donor eggs is a wide-open adventure.  But is also a choice of love.  I was willing and able to use donor eggs because I love my husband and wanted to give him children and build a family with him.

I want my children to know that each one of them was very intentionally produced.  No accidents here.  They were planned, sought out, and worked for.  We have our family on purpose.  Only time will tell how my children will react to this truth.  I believe it will change as they age.  We will answer their questions as best we can.  I want them to know we did this with good intentions, based in love.

guest poster donor eggs

Joanne is a professional registered nurse, wife to hubby of 17 years, mother to 3 pre-schoolers and a dog. When she is not running the household she likes to sleep (undisturbed), read, drink coffee, and converse with adults.  
She is trying to intentionally live a life of clean eating and clean living.  She exercises regularly and tries to figure out what’s for dinner each night.  Her greatest asset is kindness.
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