A BIG "Thank You" to ShellShockedMama for her research and writing of this post!
Everything You Wanted to Know About Making a Baby But Didn't Bother to Read in TCOYF*
(AKA The Most Asked Questions on the TTCAL Board)
Disclaimer. I have zero medical experience. Like, none. I can barely stand the sight of blood. My guide is just a compiled list of things I've done, heard of or learned about. Now, I am probably way smarter and nicer than your medical team, but that's not the point now is it?
AFTER YOUR LOSS:
First and foremost, I am so sorry that you had to suffer a loss. I had an "early loss" (chemical pregnancy) and it was devastating. So my heart hurts for all women who have gone through a loss
I had a loss, how long should I wait to have ::whispers:: the sex? 100 years. Ha! Kidding. Please ask your doctor b/c as cool as I am, I am not a doctor. With that said the bare minimum wait to put ANYTHING in your vagina is two weeks. It doesn't matter what kind of loss you had, natural m/c or d&c. There are to be no tampons, no fingers, no tongues, no vibrators, no ANYTHING shoved up your hoo for 14 days. You are very prone to infection during this time.
My doctor told me to wait "x" cycles, but I don't want to. How long did you wait? This question will never have a common answer. Each doctor has a different answer. For instance, I was not told to wait at all while others are told wait 3 cycles. For the love of pete ASK YOUR DOCTOR WHY s/he wants you to wait that long. Sometimes, after check ups your doctor will reduce the waiting time. I know full well how you don't want to "waste" a cycle by TTA, however I think it's smart to follow doctor's orders. You listen to them for everything else, why not this?
How long after your miscarriage did your period return? Was your cycle or Luteal Phase the same as before the m/c? This is another question with no common answer. Some women have natural miscarriages, which counts as CD1, but then have to wait a while to get another period. Some women get their periods 20 or 30 days after a d&c/d&e, some wait three months. Rule of thumb is if it's over 6 weeks since your procedure, call your doctor. They make you wait a little while longer or they may prescribe meds to bring on your period.
Your cycle may be completely different after a loss, this is not abnormal. You may have had a 28 day cycle prior to your loss but a 32 day cycle after your loss. I wouldn't worry about it unless it varies by A LOT, like in a three month period your cycles are anywhere from 23-55 days. I'd call your doctor to let them know. Same thing with your luteal phase, it could be shorter after a loss, but I would track it VIA CHARTING, for three months (which would show a trend, as opposed to just a one or two month irregularity) before I start to panic.
Will I ovulate after my miscarriage (or d&c) but before my first period arrives? It's entirely possible, I did. It would be good to take precautions and I would highly suggest condoms for this time period if you are TTA.
Whoa, my first period after a D&C/D&E is totally weird and heavy. Is this normal? Most likely, some people have super light periods, some people think their utes are going to fall out and walk away. Like I said, everything is different after a loss.Call your doctor immediately if you experience the following:
*You're bleeding through a super big tampon or pad in an hour or under.
* You're cramping so bad that you can't sit/stand/function and you get no relief from over the counter meds.
* You are passing large clots, think the size of a baseball.
* You feel dizzy and/or faint
OPKS (or OPT's):
OPKS - (ovulation predictor kits/tests) measure solely the LH (lutenizing hormone) that your body produces in great quantities just before ovulation. If you get a positive OPK that means your body is gearing up to ovulate. If you get two positive OPKs then it means you caught the beginning and end of the surge. From the FIRST positive OPK you will have approximately 12 to 36 hours until you ovulate. However an OPK doesn't tell you if you ovulated. Only charting (or a doctor doing blood tests and ultrasounds) can tell you that. Also, an important note, if you want your test to be as accurate as possible you should test at 2PM after holding your pee for a few hours. If you find that you never get a positive OPK try testing twice a day.
How do I get started? Um, buy a ovulation kit? I started by buying a pack of 7 tests. If you know generally around the time when you ovulate, 7 will probably be enough for you. If you have no clue or your cycle is wonky, then I would by the kit with 30 test strips and use the strips every day throughout your cycle until you get a positive. Many people have preferences as to brands. OPKs can get costly, so beware. What I did was use the dollar store brand ovulation predictor and, if I couldn't determine if my result was positive, I re-tested with a digital. I will say that after i started testing at 2PM, I had no problems determining if my test was positive or negative.
I never get a positive. Help! There are many reasons why you're not getting a positive
(1) You're not ovulating
(2) You have a short surge and you're not catching it
(3) Your surge doesn't build up quite enough to trigger a positive on a test, but you do in fact ovulate (i've only read about this. I don't know first hand of this)
My suggestion: Chart. That way at least you KNOW you're ovulating. And also test more often. Perhaps at 10 AM, 2PM and 6 PM and see if that helps.
I keep getting positives (10 days, 12 days, 20 days) after the first set - whiskey tango foxtrot???!? Remember that the OPKS only measure the hormone prior to ovulation right? Well, when people have this and they have corresponding charts, it usually shows that their body tried to ovulate, had the surge, but never released the eggie. Your body is pretty smart and will try to ovulate again, so that's most likely the reason for the multiple positive tests. It's not likely that you got a false positive unless (a) you're pregnant or (b) you have PCOS
If I'm pregnant, will I get a positive OPK? Yes, you will. The LH hormone and HCG hormone are almost identical but for one little variation. The OPK does not test for this variation wherein the HPT does. HOWEVER, the same rule applies for the OPKT, for the test to be positive the test line has to be darker than the control line. It's not preferred to use OPKs as HPTs b/c you will have to have more HCG in your system for this test than you would for an early test HPT. For example, I did both an OPK and an HPT. I got an "almost" positive OPK and a definite positive HPT at 13 DPO.
Where can I get cheap OPKs and pregnancy tests? The Dollar Store. No, really! Also look for the WondFo brand online, on places like Amazon. You can get something like 100 for $20.
Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor - This is a digital device that you purchase (for a little over $200) and reuse every month. You also purchase test sticks to use each month (about $40 for 30, though you can find great deals on Amazon.). You will use anywhere from 10-20 sticks each month. In addition to monitoring your LH surge like OPKs, the CBEFM also measures estrogen. It gives you a digital readout of your fertility each month - low, high, or peak. Generally you'll start getting high readings about 3 days prior to ovulation, then get peak readings the day before you ovulate and the day after, and a high reading the day after you ovulate (though this may vary slightly from person to person). The CBEFM gets to "know" you and will give you very personalized readings. The instructions are online here; if you're interested in it at all I highly recommend checking out the site.
I know a lot of women, myself included, get intimidated by charting. It's so hard; I'll never be able to wake up at the same time every day, I don't want to do it every day. Those are the excuses I made. After my loss in September, I said forget it, I'm going to chart!
What you need:
A thermometer (it should be a basal body thermometer. Mine has four digits, like 98.09, some have three, like 98.0. Taking Charge of Your Fertilty doesn't believe that you need a four digit thermometer, but I prefer it)
An alarm clock
A charting program
Taking Charge of Your Fertility* (this is the charting bible. Read it, know it, love it.)
*Obviously not required, but definitely helpful.
I prefer an online system like FertilityFriend.com because they will set your cross hairs for you, so you can see your thermal shift from pre and post ovulation temps. Fertility Friend is free, but you get perks if you buy a VIP pass. There are many different internet site dedicated to charting, just find what you like the best. You can also find charts you can print out all over the internet if you prefer a physical copy.
The reasons that I am pro charting are:
You can see a trend in your cycles, after enough charting you might actually be able to predict ovulation, say after 6 charted cycles.
You can confirm that you ovulated, or didn't. If you find that you haven't ovulated in 3 or more cycles, then go to the doctor. One or two annovulatory cycles is NOT abnormal and your doctor may not want to do anything. BUT if you're over 35, then you'd want to see the doctor immediately b/c they'd be more prone to intervention due to "advanced maternal age"
You can see if your luteal phase is short, like I did. A luteal phase is the time between ovulation and your period. If it's under 10 days, you will most likely not be able to sustain a pregnancy. Also your luteal phase is generally a set amount of days and doesn't vary. It can, but usually only by one day on either side.
You will know if your period is actually "late" as opposed to having just ovulated late. For instance, Lets say my cycle is normally 26 days, and I'm on day 28 of my cycle. I might be excited because my "period is late" HOWEVER, I know that my luteal phase is 11 days and because I charted, I know that I ovulated on day 19, Therefore, my period isn't actually late until I hit cycle day 31 and no period shows up. Make sense? Also, if you dont' chart, for the love of GOD do not ask us, "what's going on, could I be pregnant" we don't live inside of your uterus and we can't predict the future.
Many times your chart will tell you you're pregnant before a pregnancy test will. If you've found that your temps stay up throughout your set luteal phase and several days past your luteal phase, you could be pregnant, even though a pregnancy test may give you a negative.
Also, a tip from me to you: if you know that you never really get up at a specific time, just PICK a time, set your alarm clock, take your temp (write it down) and go back to bed. For instance, now that I'm unemployed, I wake up when I want. I set my alarm to 6AM, take my temp, then go back to bed. It is IMPERATIVE that you chart at the same time every day. If you don't, your chart could very well be useless.
If you are using OPKs you should be BD'ing from the first positive OPK and every day thereafter for at least four days. Fertility Friend states to have the best odds you should BD three days prior to O, the day of O and the day after O. (the odds of getting pregnant on the day after O is slim, but they throw it in there to be safe)
If you are NOT using OPKs then you should use your other bodily clues, such as fertile cervical mucus and cervix position. If you have egg white cervical mucus or watery cervical mucus you are most likely fertile. If your cervix is high (hard to reach while you're finger banging yourself) you are most likely fertile.
If you chart, charting generally doesn't warn you when you're about to ovulate. It confirms that you did. However, many women can figure out when they're about to ovulate because they will see a temperature dip. But, if you're like me and have three or four dips pre-o, that doesn't help. I don't suggesting using a chart to predict O.
If you're not doing ANY of the above, then what the hell are you doing? No, I kid. timing is important, however if --- for the sake of your sanity-- you don't want to do any of the above you should BD every other day from the end of AF until you get either a positive pregnancy test or AF starts.
PREGNACY TESTS AND QUESTIONS:
When should I test? I cut and paste this chart frequently:
Here are percents on BFP when going by dpo with the most sensitive "at home" test sticks:
35% at 10dpo
51% at 11dpo
62% at 12dpo
68% at 13dpo
74% at 14dpo
80% at 15dpo
88% at 16dpo
92% at 17dpo
This is why testing early can be frustrating and disappointing. 65% of pregnant women will get a negative at 10DPO! If you test any earlier than 10DPO, then you've pretty much wasted your pee stick. I've never met anyone --other than when googling-- that ever got a positive test earlier than that. (I think, if they did get a positive at 9DPO or earlier, they probably ovulated earlier than they thought)
Most pee sticks at the store will measure 25 units of the HCG hormone, which is pretty sensitive. Sometimes more sensitive then the ones your doctor has. If you prefer to go to your doctor, say for a blood test, then ask how sensitive the test is. If it measure 100 units of the HCG hormone, you might want to save your co-pay until you're at least 18DPO ish. the dollar store tests are good and they are sensitive, so use them first. if you get a negative, it's only $1.
The package says it can detect the HCG Hormone "5 days before missed period". Is that true? Yes and No. It's kind of a TTC urban legend that the "average" cycle is 28 days with a 14 day LP. I don't know who started that myth, but it just won't DIE! So, when a test tells you you can test 5 days before your missed period, that's not exactly true. They wrongly assume that you have this average cycle. That you have a 28 day cycle and ovulate on day 14. Let's do a little math, yes? So, based on the fallacy I just stated about, subtract 5 from 14, which means that the earliest you should even bother testing (and I still think it's too early, but hey, it's your pee stick) is 9 DPO. SO, if you have an 11 day day LP, you can only test 2 days before your missed period, if you have an 10 day LP, you can only test ONE day before your missed period. Just keep this in mind when you freak out over a BFN b/c you tested early.
DO NOT WASTE OUR TIME ASKING:
My nipples itch, my breasts are sore, I have a super sense of smell,I woke up early and I only do that when PG, my left eye is watering could I be pregnant? Beats me. I'm not a pee stick and I left my magic 8 ball at home. Wait until you've passed your longest luteal phase and take a test.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO UP YOUR CHANCES:
Pomegranite Juice - This juice improves the thickness of your uterine lining, which is especially helpful for those on fertility treatments. It has to be pure pomergranite juice, not a "mix" like the ones minute maid produces. 8oz daily starting from CD1. Be warned, if you do not get a BFP, AF will make the blood scene from Carrie look like 'nuthin.
Mucinex or Robitussin - the ONLY active ingredient should be guaifenesin. Taken from CD1, this can increase your cervial mucus. Because it's a decongestant, it makes mucus everywhere thin out. If you notice you're kinda "dry" down there or don't see fertile cervical mucus, take this. As to dosage, I'd do what was on the box, but you must start from CD1.
Green Tea - this is a link to why Green Tea is thought to be good for those trying to conceive. You need about two cups a day and do not take it within 4 hours of your prenatals or folic acid supplement, b/c green tea interefers with your body's absorption.
Vitex - I am the one woman marketing machine when it comes to this stuff. Vitex works similarly to Clomid and you're not supposed to take it if you're on fertility treatments. Vitex aka chasteberry help to straighten out wonky cycles, aide in ovulation and help lengthen your luteal phase. The first month I took Vitex, my luteal phase went from 8 days to 11 days. AMAZING. Technically it takes 3 months to really take effect but you might see results earlier. You can take it throughout your cycle, though some say to stop. I never did. The dosage, i've never found a consistent recommendation. Some say 100mg, some say 1000. I took 480ish in the morning with my vitamins. Also, if you get pregnant, you're supposed to stop the vitex, however many midwives and bumpies have said it's ok in first tri, so ask your doctor/midwife.
B6 - I only know of B6 helping people with Luteal Phase Deficiencies, increasing progesterone production. I've not found a consensus on the "right" dosage, but please be careful. Eventhough B6 is water soluble, it can still be toxic. In what I've read, there's no agreement on toxic dosage. I personally take 100mg, another bumpie takes 200mg. Some research says you can take up to 500mg without risking toxicity, but please talk to your doctor since it is so controversial.
Progesterone - there are many forms of this, most ladies get it from their doctor with specific instructions. However, there are the natural creams you can buy from an herbal store, it's not as "potenent' as what you would get from your doctor, but if you use it after ovulation it will help lengthen your luteal phase. It's also recommended for the 1st tri of pregnancy. And, a good note, it's practically in possible to overdose on progesterone--especially when taking herbal progesterone. So if you put too much lotion on (2 to 6 pumps is what I've read as a recommendation) don't freak. You won't hurt anything. Just be careful to take it AFTER ovulation if you take it before, you can actually stop ovulation from happening.
Pineapple Core - After ovulation, you can eat pineapple core to aid in implantation, (it contains bromelain, which is what is thought to aid implantation). I personally never did this b/c I always forgot. But, recommendations from other are to cut the core into very thin pieces and eat it for five days. Some have made it into a smoothie, but i don't know the recipe. I assume that if you already have a smoothie recipe, just throw in pineapple core.
PreSeed - this is the only sperm friendly lubricant out there. This is helpful for those who are, ahem, dry down there. It's also recommended to those on Clomid, since Clomid dries up your cervial mucus. I also never did this b/c I kept forgetting to buy it. I have been told that a little goes a LONG way, so use sparringly or else your DH will think you turned into a slip 'n slide.