For those of you who know, my husband and I recently had our first child. Throughout my pregnancy and even before my pregnancy, I started to learn more and more about the Islamic traditions regarding childbirth. There are so many beautiful traditions and sunnah regarding this sacred time. I decided to share a few things that I learned to other Muslimahs out there. This series will be broken down into 4 parts: Conception, During Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery and Early Infancy.
Part 1: Conception
There are many things you can do to help to conceive a child. First and most importantly, it is necessary that you and your husband are good, practicing Muslims, because this is the foundation of the family and will help you to be in the right physical and emotional state for conceiving. You should both be observing the five daily prayers, fasting, and giving zakah according to your ability. Your income and that of your husband's should be from what is permissible, and not from the haraam, such as interest, or the sale of alcohol or pork.
As far as specific du'as for conceiving, there is no "magic bullet" du'a, of course, but here are some beneficial supplications from the Holy Qur'an:
"Rabbi la tadharni faradan wa anta khayru al-warithin."
Translation: "My Lord! Leave me not solitary (childless) You are the best of inheritors." (Al-Anbiya 89)
"Rabbi hab li min ladunka dhurriyyatan tayyibah innaka sami`ud du`a'
Translation: "My Lord! Grant me from You upright offspring, for You hear all prayers" (Al `Imran 38)
Recite these du'as frequently, and also make a habit of remembering Allah throughout your day with "subhanAllah" "alhamdulillah", and "Allahu akbar" and other authentic du'as.
There are also some "worldy" things you can do to increase the chance of conception. The first is to enjoy marital intimacy frequently. A woman is only fertile for a few days out of the month, so if you are intimate often, you have a better chance to conceive. You can purchase ovulation prediction kits (which use your body's temperature to determine when you might be most fertile) and you can keep track of your menstrual cycle to determine your fertile times. Also, RELAX! Marital intimacy should be enjoyable for its own sake, and if you are enjoying one another and not stressing over "having" to get pregnant, you will actually increase your chances, as stress hormones can interfere with pregnancy. There are many stories about women who finally got pregnant after they "gave up" trying and just resigned themselves to not having children.
Make sure also that you are not doing anything that will harm your health. If either of you smokes, stop now. The toxins from tobacco products can badly affect the man's sperm, damaging it and leading to infertility and potential defects in the fetus. Eat good healthy food, avoid processed foods, and maintain a healthy body weight. Exercise moderately. You should take a good woman's multivitamin or prenatal vitamin and extra folic acid to avoid a specific birth defect. Be sure to check the ingredients for gelatin prior to purchase.
As you see, there is a lot you can do to give yourself the best chance of conceiving. One thing to caution you about: you might receive superstitious advice from family members or acquaintances. Avoid any non-Islamic advice and hold to the Qur'an and Sunnah. InshaAllah, you will be blessed with a child who will be well-mannered, beautiful, intelligent, healthy and pious.
Once a woman has confirmed her pregnancy, she should express her gratitude before Allah Ta'ala as this is indeed a great bounty of Allah Ta'ala. Gratitude may be expressed in the following dua:
Translation: O Allah! All praises are due to You alone and I express my gratitude unto You alone (for granting me the honour of motherhood)