The science of conception

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Just in case you blushed instead of paying attention to how babies were made back in school, here’s the baby making low down:

Your Menstrual Cycle

Did you know that your entire stock of ovaries was made in your uterus before you were even born? Baby girls are born with roughly two million eggs, which continue to die until puberty when most women have between 200,000 and 500,000 eggs. Of these only 400-500 mature and are released at a rate of about one a month by your ovaries (ovaries usually ovulate alternatively).

The development and release of an egg ready for fertilization by a sperm is called ovulation. Look at our ovulation calculator to see when the best time for baby making is. Obviously we cannot forget about sex when talking about the science of conception. Although no statistics are available to show that making love at particular times in the day are better than others, sperm counts are generally higher in the morning. Men also have the strongest sexual urges when they first wake up, so mornings are a good time to try.

Positions to avoid

Avoid straddling your partner or the woman on top position, sitting or standing as these positions cause the semen to leak out and may result in fewer sperm making their way to the egg. Making love in water can cause a change in the vaginal mucus needed for proper sperm passage, and chlorine from swimming pools can create a hostile environment for sperm.

Baby making

Baby-making can actually be very stressful especially if you don't fall pregnant as each month goes by. Lots of couples find it a strain to 'feel sexy' when there is so much pressure involved. Although we have suggested some positions that can help with 'baby-making', having sex however you and your partner feel comfortable is always the best idea. Try not to think about it as possibly making a baby and if possible relax. Use our ovulation calculator to work out which days you are most fertile over the next twelve months. Now all you have to do is book a weekend away so you are both relaxed and have as much sex as you like! You don't have to have more sex then normal (but you can if you want) but make sure you are having regular sex, so every two to three days throughout your cycle, to optimise your chances of falling pregnant.

Fertilisation

This is the point where the sperm meets the egg. As it penetrates the egg, they join to create a zygote, a cell that contains all of the genetic information needed to make a baby. The zygote then begins it's journey down the fallopian tube on it's way to the uterus. Along the way, the zygote divides again and again, and becomes a solid ball of cells, then a hollow ball of cells (a blastocyst).

Implantation

The blastocyst then attaches to the uterine lining whilst hormones thicken up the uterine wall and produce a mucus plug to block the cervix. The baby begins to grow and develop and incredibly within just three more weeks, the baby's first nerve cells will have formed. By eight weeks, an ultrasound can usually detect the baby's heartbeat.

The information in this feature is intended for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health, the health of your child or the health of someone you know, please consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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