Conception

Should IVF Clients Be Able To Choose The Sex Of Their Baby?

Gender selection has been an issue of contention within the Australian IVF industry for a number of years. They have the technology and have had for some time, but it’s currently illegal for either medical or non-medical reasons. This is why a proposed reshuffling of ethical guidelines within the Australian IVF sector has been relatively controversial.

RELATED: Should Commercial Surrogacy Be Legalised In Australia?

If the proposal is implemented, IVF clients would have access to choose the sex of their baby regardless of reasoning. This would bring Australian laws surrounding IVF technology in line with countries such as the US. Additionally, the proposed changes will include financial compensation for female egg donors, much like male sperm donation.

For some couples with valid medical issues, these proposed changes would come as a blessing. These include people with a family history of disabilities who have been genetically tested and identified as having predisposed gene mutations. As some genes only become activated in either male or female offspring, having a choice to select the sex of their baby would significantly reduce their chances of conceiving a child with disabilities.

I know this may sound harsh or even unethical to some, however, having a child with special needs myself and coming from a family which harbours mutant genes for several types of intellectual disabilities, I know first hand the impact mutant genes can have on an individual and their family. There’s also a high cost to the community at large. Therefore, these proposed changes for medical reasons are valid.

It’s when the concept of designer families are breached that the issue of sex selection gets blurred. Currently in the name of “family balancing,” couples hell bent on specifically having a boy or girl have paid big bucks to travel outside of Australia. In places such as the US they have access to IVF facilities where they can choose the sex of their babies.

What does the Australian public think?

The most recent research was done back in 2013 and was conducted by Roy Morgan. They wanted to determine what Australians thought of IVF and sex selection. The results, listed below, were in favour of IVF in general, but selecting the sex of a child was a very different story.

  • IVF treatment: 92 per cent agreed with IVF treatment while only 8 per cent opposed it.
  • IVF treatment with gender selection for family balancing (non-medical reasoning for second and subsequent children): 20 per cent agreed with the proposal, while 80 per cent disagreed.
  • IVF treatment with gender selection (selecting the gender of any child): 17 per cent agreed with the proposal while 80 per cent disagreed – 3 per cent were undecided.

There was no polling specifically for medical reasoning.

Whether or not these controversial changes will go ahead is yet to be determined. Obviously there is debate raging from both sides of the equation, each with exceptionally strong views. So, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see which side has the strongest argument and comes out the victor.

August 24, 2015

Broody Blues: When Is It Time To Stop Having Babies?

The strong, primal urge to have children can strike you when you least expect it; it’s a deep, emotional pull that can be completely illogical, irrational, inconvenient and indeed bordering on insanity, as in my case.

RELATED: Why Having Babies Later In Life Is Good For You

I’ve just turned 41; I have three-year-old and two-year-old daughters; I work part-time and our household is so chaotic and noisy I’m often half expecting to hear the sounds of glass shattering – none of these conditions are ideal in which to bring another life into this world.

And yet, I feel an intense, inexplicable desire to breed – it’s like my fertility clock has started tick, tick, ticking again as my body approaches the end of its peak reproductive capabilities. I’m yearning for a baby to the point that when I see a newborn in the street, I have to quell a strong desire to sniff that cute, little bundle of joy’s head; nothing would smell sweeter to me right now. This is far from ideal and fairly offensive, anti-social behaviour: “Er, excuse me? Can I please sniff your baby’s sweet head?” Ugh.

fertility, fertility clock, conception, parenting

And did I mention I already have both a preschooler and a toddler, born very close together? What am I thinking?! My head is overruling my heart on this one: my having another baby can’t and won’t happen – life is only just starting to get manageable as it is; my husband and I are finally starting to get seven-to-eight hours sleep nightly again and we have a happy, if hectic family life. Why would I want to ruin all that with another baby?!

Then there’s my fertility to think of: having a baby in your 40s can be very fraught. It is of course, thanks to the miracles of modern science, by no means impossible. But my husband and I have already endured the agony of two miscarriages and a down syndrome scare in our quest to have children later in life. It’d be way too much mental and emotional anguish to lose another child and/or suffer more pregnancy complications.

And then there are the long, sleepless nights to consider – my 45-year-old husband would happily go for another baby, but I’m not sure we’d survive it, to be honest – I think it would be very ageing and stressful. I’m sure, if it was to happen, I’d wake up one day, pregnant with our third child, with a giant patch of grey hair (no greys yet, touch wood).

And yet, despite all this, I am still longing for another baby; not even my boisterous and demanding two littlies can deter these irrepressible maternal urges. For having a baby is an experience like no other – one of life’s greatest gifts – a rollercoaster of emotions: giddy highs and the lowest of lows.

Interestingly, I never even felt this strong desire to have children until about six months before my wedding at age 36. I was extremely career-driven and rarely, if ever, got clucky. But now, perhaps because my husband and I have been blessed with two healthy and adorable children – so I know just how wondrous parenthood can be – it’s a heart pull that is starting to plague me.

fertility, fertility clock, conception, parenting, conceiving in your 40s

However, here is a fun fertility fact which, for me, is yet another reason to stop having kids: from your mid-40s, if you conceive naturally, you have a one in two chance of having twins. Can you believe it? Women’s bodies are amazing; this twin lottery is due to the fact that as we approach menopause, our hormones work harder to release an egg from our ovaries. And so the result is often two eggs being released during ovulation which can be fertilised and implanted in our uterus, resulting in non-identical twins. Eek.

Every baby is a blessing, but I’m way too tired to have another and, I like to think, wise enough to know when it’s time to stop. Now, if I can just overrule these utterly ridiculous broody blues…

What do you think? Have you experienced the broody blues? How did you know it was time to stop having babies?

July 4, 2015

Why Having Babies Later In Life Is Good For You

“Tick tock, tick tock: you can’t have a career and babies,” scolded my uncle, whom I cannot bear, for obvious reasons. Yep, I actually had this Bridget Jones’s Diary-esque situation happen to me at a family function – a man, then in his 60s, felt compelled to tell me, then aged in my late 20s, that I had no business putting a career before marriage and babies.

Doesn’t it make your blood boil? It did mine then and still does now.

Ah, the great fertility debate: every couple of months or so in the media, without fail, a fertility expert (usually male) will also admonish women for being so utterly, almost criminally selfish as to have babies later in life. How dare you put your career, travel or all-round self-development first, or even just wait until you meet the right guy? Why, if you’re of age, you should be out there breeding, girlfriend!

I’ve interviewed some of these so-called experts myself, back in the day, and I recall feeling so anxious about being in my early 30s then at the time and – gasp – still not procreating, as I hadn’t yet met my life partner – that I momentarily considered the largely unsuccessful practice of egg freezing.

Now, I know at least some of what these fertility experts say is largely true in regards to women ideally conceiving in their 20s – although, note well: they usually also have vested financial interests in you using their IVF or egg freezing services. For a start, you’re often at your physical prime then, conception is usually quick and easy, and there are the fewest medical complications during pregnancy.

But is younger necessarily better when it comes to having a baby? I don’t think there’s ever an ideal time; I believe much of what we are told about potential risks, especially for expectant mothers older than 35, is unnecessarily alarmist. And if you, like myself, married and had babies later in life (you heathen, you!) – we’re in very good company, and many celebrities are also onboard with this trend. Just look at TV’s Sonia Kruger, who recently announced she’s 16 weeks pregnant with her first baby at 48. Others who’ve had babies late in life include Madonna, J-Lo, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman and more.

The Bureau of Statistics says the older birth rate reflects today’s modern woman’s changing priorities of wanting to spend more time getting better educated and become financially stable before breeding an army of mini-mes (quelle horreur!). And since 2000, women aged 30-34 have continued to record the highest fertility rate of all age groups. What’s more, since 2005 the fertility rate for women aged 35-39 years has exceeded that of women aged 20-24 years.

So, why all the undue societal guilt and disapproval for us women delaying childbirth? Short of punching arrogant and rude uncles in the face, and never reading an article about fertility again, how do you deal?

Well, aside from knowing you’re in good company, it’s handy to remember you’re very likely to have a healthy baby as long as you are in good health, seek early prenatal care and have good lifestyle habits. Sure, your fertility does decline after 35, and your risk of pregnancy complications, miscarriage and Down syndrome all increase – and I am in no way making light of this, for I have personally experienced it – there are also many, many advantages to having babies later in life.

Sure, your body might not snap-back straight away post-baby, ala supermodel Miranda Kerr, for example, and it may take you longer to conceive – but you will most likely enjoy greater financial security, personal confidence and inner-happiness.

Was I ready, prior to having my first baby in my mid 30s, to bring a child into the world? Hell no, I had too much living to do first!

And while everyone is different, and there are pregnancy risks at any age – I say it’s high time we women aged 35+ started being out and proud about what worked for us, so-called fertility experts be damned! And motherhood can be isolating and lonely at the start – far, far better to have kids when you’re really emotionally ready then feel like you’re missing out on an important chapter in your life of getting to know yourself first.

What do you think: is there a perfect age at which to have a baby?

Main image via www.stratfordacupuncture.com and secondary image via www.pixabay.com.

procreation, fertility debate, egg freezing, having babies

August 29, 2014

Getting Pregnant: How Long Does It Usually Take?

If getting pregnant is on your agenda, you’re probably hoping to get a positive pregnancy test result after the first try. Many of us know women who were able to conceive within the first few weeks of trying. However, it can take up to a year for the average woman under the age of 35 to conceive.

If you happen to fall into this category, it is important to not get discouraged. As well as talking with your doctor, there are a few other things that you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

How long does it take most couples to get pregnant?
Statistics show that approximately 25 percent of couples are able to conceive within the first month, and 50 percent will conceive by the end of six months. After a year of trying to conceive, 85 to 90 percent of couples should be successful. This means that around 10 to 15 percent of couples will not be able to conceive within one year. If you’re over 35, consider seeing a fertility specialist after six months of trying.

How can I increase my chances of conceiving?
Check your ovulation and fertile time. You should start having intercourse a few days before your predicted ovulation date. Avoid using lubricant and try to remain horizontal for up to 30 minutes after intercourse.

You can also increase the likelihood of conception by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and taking a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin. A supplement that contains lots of folic acid is especially important because it is essential for early fetal development.

What should I do if I can’t get pregnant?
If you have been trying for more a one year, you should consult with your doctor and a fertility specialist. They will be able to conduct tests on you and your partner to determine the cause. Once the cause has been established, your doctor can suggest a method of treatment. The most common fertility treatments include fertility drugs, in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), intra-uterine insemination and hormone therapy, and adoption and fostering is also an option.

There are many factors that may lead to infertility in men or women. Thyroid problems, cancer, imbalanced hormones, previous cases of the mumps, low sperm count, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome and other conditions can significantly lower your chances of getting pregnant. Fortunately, the majority of these conditions can be treated by a fertility specialist. However, many of the treatment methods can be quite expensive and take years.

Remember, you’re not alone. Try not to get stressed or discouraged, and talk to your partner and family about the next course of action. You’ll find many online forums as well to help with your next steps.

How long did it take you to conceive?

 

February 4, 2014

5 Tips For Getting Pregnant Faster

If getting pregnant hasn’t been easy for you, you’re not alone. Many women don’t get pregnant when they start trying, but there are things you can do to help your chances of getting pregnant faster.

Ovulation
Understanding your ovulation cycle is key to getting pregnant faster. Keeping a pregnancy calendar is a must, so you can chart your ovulation dates. Start by recording the day of your last menstrual period (LMP). Most women ovulate between day 11 and day 21 of their cycle (counting from the first day of the LMP). Fertility experts refer to this as the “fertile time” of a cycle, because the chances of getting pregnant are increased during this time. Ovulation can occur at other times during your cycle, and can change from month to month. So it’s important to note down any changes in to your pregnancy calendar.

Consider positioning
How you have sex and how you position your body afterwards can help. Fertility experts recommend having sex on your back, and then laying down after sex. You may want to hop up and use the bathroom, or run to the kitchen to get a glass of water, but it is best to stay still to open up your ovaries and allow for better flow to the uterus.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Trying to get pregnant isn’t just about what you do in the bedroom. Make sure that you live a healthy lifestyle – from watching what you eat and drink, to maintaining an exercise routine to keep your body in shape and your weight in check.

The other important factor is learning to relax. Getting pregnant can sometimes feel like you’re racing against the clock. And if you find you’re not getting pregnant, that can add to even more stress. But the stress you put on yourself can effect your hormones, which can be counteractive to your reproductive efforts. So make stress-reducing efforts part of your lifestyle, like going for regular walks, meditating or doing yoga.

Stop using birth control
If you’re thinking of getting pregnant, stop using birth control. It is important that you stop taking your birth control as early as possible so that your body can start to get back to its normal cycle, and flush out the chemicals. No matter what type of birth control you used, your body may vary in terms of how long it takes to get back to your regular ovulation cycle.

Keep trying
Trying to get pregnant can sometimes feel like a job. But instead, enjoy the intimacy that comes with having sex, and lots of it! It might be easier said than done, but it’s important to try and not become obsessed with getting pregnant. Relax, and keep trying. If things don’t change, then consult your doctor. But in the meantime, enjoy having lots of great sex!

What are your tips for getting pregnant faster?

January 28, 2014

Why You Need a Pregnancy Calendar

Planning your pregnancy? Some of your friends may have mentioned a pregnancy calendar, and you’ve scoffed at them assuming it was just a trend of the week. But we’ll show you why this type of calendar really is a smart idea.

Knowing your cycle
If you’ve decided to dive head first into trying to conceive, but don’t know where you are in your cycle, then it’s time to get out your calendar and mark some dates. The first thing to do in your pregnancy calendar is note the date of your last period. If you’re not sure of the date, you will probably have to wait for your next period to ensure that you are on track. Once you know the start and end dates, you can mark those down on your calendar to get started.

Meeting with your OB-GYN
When you go to meet with your gynecologist, bring your pregnancy calendar. Although plenty of information about ovulation and conception is available on the internet, speaking with your doctor is always a better idea. By bringing your calendar, your doctor can help you to start crafting a plan toward conception, and then, your pregnancy timeline. Your doctor will be able to help you figure out when ovulation happens within your body and when the optimal time for conception might be. Then, you’ll know when to try to conceive.

Knowing your due date
Wouldn’t you like to know your due date as soon as possible? By looking at your calendar, your doctors can give you a due date. Remember, mark down the dates on which you had sex so that you can estimate when the baby was actually conceived.

Tracking the trimesters
Your doctor will tell you when your trimesters are. But there is something special about tracking this information on your own. Once you find out all of the information from your doctor, you can mark down when the second and third trimesters of pregnancy are beginning. By reading up on information and speaking with your doctor, you can also mark down the milestones that your baby is reaching by the weeks. Use your calendar to mark down changes in your body and emotions, and it will become a precious keepsake.

Creating a sense of anticipation
Having a pregnancy calendar allows you to keep track of important information and dates, but it also allows you to build up a sense of excitement. You can mark off the days until your little one arrives. You might even want to note the number of days or weeks that are left till your due date.

Did you have a pregnancy calendar? 
January 17, 2014

Trying to Get Pregnant? 6 Tips To Help Make It Happen

Getting pregnant isn’t always easy or simple. Even if you and your partner are both in good health, you may find pregnancy just doesn’t happen right away. Sometimes women in their thirties find that their fertility isn’t what it was in their twenties. Don’t put pressure on yourself, as there are options in having children.

Here are six ways to help try getting pregnant faster. We can’t guarantee that any or all of them will work for you, but they’re all worth a shot if you’re trying to get pregnant.

Stop the pill early

If you’ve been taking oral contraceptives for several years, it may take your body several months to begin ovulating regularly again. (This is also true for the patch, the ring, Implanon and Mirena IUC.) Because of this, you should stop using contraception for a few months so your body can get fully primed for pregnancy.

Find out when you ovulate

Your body is more likely to conceive on certain days of your cycle than others, so you need to learn what time of the month you ovulate. The easiest way to do this is to buy an ovulation predictor kit, or OPK. The OPK will detect a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine that will happen about 36 to 48 hours before you ovulate.

Schedule sex for just before you ovulate

Once your ovaries shoot out an egg, it will hang around for only 12 to 24 hours, so you need to make sure it will meet up with a sperm during that time. The best way to make sure this happens is to start having frequent sex as soon as your period ends. Your ovulation date and the following two days are the prime times for conception to occur.

Lie on your back following sex

Resting on your back allows the sperm to pool in your vagina and be in the best position to swim for your egg. Having sex before you go to bed is a good way to make conception more likely. Drift off to dreams of being a mommy!

Be ready to test

You’ll want to know as soon as possible if you do succeed in getting pregnant, so buy at least one home pregnancy test and have it ready to go. For the most accurate results, wait to test until the day after you expect your period to arrive. Testing too early can give false negative results, so since you want a positive, don’t rush things!

If you don’t succeed, try again

Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get pregnant the first month you try. Statistics show that while more than half of couples that try to conceive will do so within six months and 85% within a year, most do not in just one month. Don’t lose hope.

Do you have any secret tips for trying to get pregnant?

August 6, 2013

Why You Need A Pregnancy Calendar

Now that you are pregnant you will want to know absolutely everything about you and your baby’s health and progress. A week-by-week pregnancy calendar is one of the first things you should look into after you find out you’re pregnant.

There are plenty of online pregnancy calendars as well as apps and good old-fashioned books. Simply enter in the date for your Last Menstrual Period (LMP), and the cycle length of your period, and you will get a week-by-week list of physical changes that will happen to your body and keep you updated on your baby’s progress. Things like when you should expect to feel that first kick or comparing the size of your baby to a piece of fruit so you have a tangible understanding of how big they’re getting.

Pregnancy Trimesters and Due Date

Trimesters are the physicians’ ways of grouping your body changes, and offer an easy way of understanding pregnancy for new parents. A full term pregnancy is usually 40 weeks, and will be divided into three trimesters, each of around three months of duration.

Let’s start with the due date. The due date of your pregnancy is generally calculated from the day of conception, which is again calculated from the day of your ovulation. Your physician will determine your due date and there are plenty of online due date calculators like this tool from Mayo Clinic.

The first trimester usually consists of first 12 weeks of the pregnancy and are the most critical of your pregnancy. You will likely feel tired so take it easy and start prenatal care.

The second trimester is generally from the 13th week to 28th week. Nausea usually (but not always) is less, and you’ll start to feel your baby kicking.

The third trimester is from 28th week to childbirth – you may be getting uncomfortable and spending all your time in elastic waistbands, but your due date is approaching. Get plenty of rest.

Best Pregnancy Calendars

Russ Baby Pregnancy Calendar – great book which also makes a handy gift for those expecting
What To Expect Pregnancy Calendar – from the makers of the bestselling book What To Expect When You’re Expecting
WebMD Pregnancy Calendar – trusted source in online medical advice

The most important part of your pregnancy is you and your health. So follow medical advice and remember a healthy mother means a healthy baby.

July 26, 2013