Pregnancy Getting Pregnant

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    Birth control may conjure up images for the Pill, condoms, or IUDs, but a growing number of moms are exploring natural birth control methods due to religious reasons, holistic leanings, or side effects suffered from more mainstream options. "Interest in natural contraceptives is becoming more and more common, even among the nonreligious, because people want to get away from artificial medications," says Dr. Jennifer Burns, a naturopathic family practitioner and founder of the Bienetre Center in Phoenix, Arizona. And done right, these methods can be surprisingly reliable.

    Check out your main natural birth control options below: 

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    The road to pregnancy is often full of false alarms. Why? Because many early pregnancy symptoms (cramps, cravings) are quite similar to the symptoms before your period -- and the fact that the signs are different for every woman only adds to the confusion.

    That said, as a general rule, there are subtle differences between pregnancy and garden-variety PMS that can help you suss out which one you're dealing with. Here are a few signs that you may have a baby on board, and how these symptoms differ from a period:

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    Jessie Lee Herald is the father of seven children from at least six different women -- though the 27-year-old Virginia man's own friends have trouble keeping track of the exact number of kids he has fathered. This month he was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for child endangerment, hit and run, and driving with a suspended license. At the time of his accident, Herald was with his 3-year-old son, who was reportedly "bloodied," but not seriously injured.

    You may think this dad deserves to serve his sentence and even more time -- and I agree. But wait until you hear the one condition the judge offered him in exchange for a lesser sentence: Herald has to get a vasectomy.

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    Getting pregnant isn't always as easy as it's cracked up to be. A quickie in the backseat of the car doesn't do it for everyone, and that can be frustrating. If you've been trying to get pregnant without success, we've got some tips that could help make conception happen faster.

    Knowing your body's natural rhythm is usually the best place to start. "Simply learning about the monthly cycle and when the optimal time for conception is -- usually between day 8 and 14 of the cycle -- can greatly improve the chances of getting pregnant," explains Jennifer Mayer, certified holistic health coach, birth doula, and co-founder of Baby Caravan in New York.

    At the same time, having the right tools at your fingertips can help you truly determine the most fertile time of your monthly cycle. Here, 7 essentials that a woman should have on hand when trying to conceive ...

    How long have you been trying to conceive? What "tools" have you tried?

    Image via pinkmoose/Flickr

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    Remember on Friends when Monica and Chandler left Phoebe's birthday dinner to go have some "time alone" because it was high-time in her ovulation cycle? Well the story is true, people! Planning a pregnancy takes a lot of work and some very exact measurements, but with the help of an accurate and easy-to-use online ovulation calculator, women who are trying to conceive can figure out the best days to make a baby.

    Along with a healthy lifestyle and one of these ovulation calendars, you can easily find your fertile window and plan a baby-making session with your partner. Good luck!

    How long have you been trying to conceive? Have you tried an ovulation calculator yet?

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    When you've made up your mind that you want to start trying for a baby, it can be tricky knowing exactly when you should be "doing it." You know you should be ovulating, but when exactly is that? While ovulation typically happens 14 days before you have a period, that can fluctuate from woman to woman. And precision is key.

    Over-the-counter ovulation tests can help, but they can be pricey. The best thing to do is to take cues from your body by following the ovulation method (or Billings method). Once you know when you're ovulating, your chances for a successful conception will improve. The key to knowing when you're ovulating? Cervical mucus. It sounds icky, but trust us, cervical mucus is your best friend when you're trying to conceive.

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    One of the things that happens when women are faced with infertility is they go to a fertility doctor who sometimes wants to get to the in vitro fertilization part right away. Sure, they try the Clomid, the Gonal-F, the IUI, and then the big guns come out. IVF. Sometimes faster than necessary. But when you are working against the clock, have a couple who really wants to have a baby, and insurance costs, that's what happens. IVF. The three letters that can instantly make a woman feel less than she should. Infertility makes us uncomfortable. It should be as easy as wanting to conceive a child and then it happens. But anyone who has faced any kind of fertility issue knows that just isn't the case. All the "fun" that comes along with making a baby gets replaced by stress, numerous doctor's visits, and expensive treatments.

    But now the frequency of IVF is being questioned by the medical community.

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    My wife and I constantly get asked when our two-year-old daughter can expect a baby brother or sister. New friends are the most curious. But even strangers are guilty -- especially friends of my younger sister, whose four-strong brood barely squeezes into a single SUV. "So...," they begin, due to the lack of natural segues into entirely inappropriate questions. Having the responsibly of keeping one child alive is only fooling around, according to these people, so isn't it time we got serious already?

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    NopeOh Jennifer Aniston, are you ever NOT rumored to be pregnant? We're not sure we'll actually see Jen sport a real-live baby bump, but the way you hear it, you'd think she had 12 kids by now. She's not the only one, though. These other 6 celebs were also rumored to be pregnant in 2013. We're still holding out hope for some of them, but as of this writing, it ain't official yet.

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    A 37-year-old woman from Brazil made headlines this week when doctors performed an emergency C-section on her only to realize she was not pregnant. The woman believed she was 41 weeks pregnant and was admitted to a hospital after complaining about abdominal pain. Not sure if her doctors gave her a sonogram or why they wouldn't after failing to detect a heartbeat, but they reportedly decided to perform a Cesarean because she looked pregnant and was experiencing some pregnancy symptoms, like nausea.

    This story sounds fishy, but the woman's actual condition isn't as odd as you may think. Docs say she had a "phantom" pregnancy, which is when women are so thoroughly convinced they are pregnant that they actually experience bodily changes that resemble those felt during pregnancy. 

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