Have lots of sex
It sounds obvious, but the first thing you have to do to increase your chances of getting pregnant is have sex regularly. Once in a blue moon - even if it's at the right time - won't necessarily be enough to give you the baby you dream of.
‘Many couples lead a life where they're working 12 hours a day. They're absolutely exhausted and not having enough sex,' explains Zita West, a holistic fertility and pregnancy consultant who runs her own pre-conception clinic.
‘The woman perhaps has been on the Pill for a long time - years ago she'd only been on it for six months to a year, nowadays she can have been taking it for 20 years by the time she wants a baby. She doesn't know about their own fertility or how her body is working.'
With ovulation kits available on the High Street, it's never been easier to work out when you should be at your most fertile. But that brings it's own problems, says Zita. ‘It puts pressure on couples to perform, especially if you know that ‘tonight's the night!'
She adds, 'Sperm live for days while an egg has a 24-hour window. So focus on your body's secretions and having sex three or four times a week so that when you do ovulate there's as much sperm as possible there, waiting to pounce on your egg.'
Get your body healthy
It's easy to slip into bad eating habits, but the healthier your body is, the more likely you are to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy.
About three months before you start trying for a baby it's a good idea to start looking into whether the food you and your partner eat is just filling you up or is really nourishing your body and boosting your fertility.
Try to cut out processed, fatty and sugary foods such as chips, cakes, and ready meals, and eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, and wholegrain. Make sure you get enough protein in chicken and fish because that helps your egg production, but cut down on red meat which has too much of the wrong kind of unsaturated fats.
Include foods high in natural folic acid, such as green leafy and root vegetables, whole grain, salmon and avocados. Folic acid helps the embryo develop normally and can also improve your man's sperm.
Foods which are high in essential fatty acids, especially one called DHA, will help your hormone balance and will also improve the health of your partner's sperm, so include oily fish in your new diet.
Drink at least two litres of water every day because it's needed to make sperm, semen, cell membranes and cervical mucus.
Take a good vitamin and mineral supplement that contains zinc and selenium, which help you make the right hormones in the right balance for getting pregnant.
Shed the extra pounds
If you're overweight, because being overweight can interfere with ovulation and fertility. Still eat a good diet with lots of the right foods, but just don't have such big portions.
What not to do
Avoid tea, coffee, sugar and cut down on alcohol. While the odd glass of wine isn't going to matter too much, binge drinking is a problem. Try to stick well within the recommended weekly levels of 14 units for a woman and 21 for a man.
Cut out cigarettes and any other drugs
Avoid over-the-counter drugs and medicines too as they can affect your cervical mucus and hormone balance.
‘This isn't just about getting pregnant,' says Zita, ‘it's about the future health of your baby. Your developing baby doesn't rely on what you're eating that day to feed it, it takes your reserves. If you drink and smoke you're likely to have lost vital vitamins and minerals from your body. If you're prepared for pregnancy, it will give you a better pregnancy and a healthier baby.'
Change your lifestyle
Exercising will help to keep your weight down - essential when you're trying to get pregnant. It will also flood your body with oxygen so that it works more efficiently, and will help you to feel more relaxed - great for boosting your fetility! But don't feel you have to be down at the gym or sweating it out at an exercise class every day: 20 minutes, three times a week doing something you enjoy will have far greater benefits.
Stress can be a real barrier to getting pregnant because it can affect your hormones and the timing of your periods. It can also reduce your body's reserves of B Vitamins and Zinc - both vital for good hormone balance. So try to work out where the stress is in your life. You may not be able to fix it, but if you can see what's causing it, you can work out a way to manage it. Even if it's just having a soak in a long hot bath before dinner, listening to music or finding a yoga class, it will help.
Have a check-up
If you think you might have a problem getting pregnant, it may be worth getting it checked out before you start trying.
For instance if you've always had irregular periods, or you have a particularly short or long cycle - for example shorter than 25 days or longer than 31 - ask your GP if your hormone balance can be checked.
Ask your parents if there have been any fertility problems in either of your families in the past. Talk to your doctor about any operations you've had on your thyroid or pituitary glands or in your abdomen.
It's worth checking if either of you have ever had chlamydia. This is a sexually transmitted disease which affects thousands of people but, as it's not always easy to notice the symptoms, it can go untreated. It can seriously affect your fertility because it can block your Fallopian tubes, stopping eggs from travelling along them.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Zita West Clinics Ltd, London, 0207 580 2169 zitawest.com/
Zita West's Guide to Getting Pregnant (Harper Thorsons, £14.99)
Natural Pregnancy by Zita West (Dorling Kindersley, £12.99)