Around half of all pregnancies are planned. If you are considering having a baby, it is worth assessing your lifestyle, health and fitness and identifying any areas you can change for the better.
These changes not only improve your health, they increase your fertility too.
In women with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, or depression, it is highly advisable to speak to your GP for preconception advice.
Women: things to consider
Diet – try to eat a well balanced diet, including foods rich in iron, calcium and folic acid. Some foods are best avoided such as liver (high Vitamin A content), excess tuna (mercury content) or soft cheese and pate.
Folic acid tablets – This is a B vitamin which helps reduce spinal abnormalities in early pregnancy. Ideally it’s best to start taking prior to conceiving and up to the 12th week of pregnancy. It is available from your GP or chemist. Foods containing folic acid include dark vegetables, oranges, and wholemeal bread and cereals.
Weight - being underweight can make you less fertile and may result in low birth weight babies. Being overweight can lead to pregnancy complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and the need for caesarean section.
If necessary, try to diet beforehand using a sensible calorie controlled diet.
Smoking - Please try to quit! Smoking can increase the chances of miscarriage, preterm birth and low birth weight babies. Its effects can be carried into childhood, for example causing asthma. Smoking Cessation workers are in your area to provide helpful support and advice.
Alcohol – It is known that alcohol can have a damaging effect on the unborn baby but it is unclear how much is safe. Therefore it is advised if you are trying to conceive to avoid alcohol completely.
Caffeine – Try to have no more than 300mgs daily. This amounts to 3 cups of brewed coffee, 4 cups of instant coffee or 6 cups of tea.
Rubella Immunity – Ask for an appointment with your GP to check to see if you are still immune. Contact with German measles can cause development problems in the unborn baby.
Exercise – Regularly do this to maintain a healthy body and heart.
Find effective ways to relax and also unwind.
Men: you can help in more ways than you think!
Quit smoking – not only to support your partner but because smoking is thought to reduce a man’s fertility.
Reduce alcohol intake – heavy drinking may affect your sperm quality.
Limit stress – stress is thought to cause hormonal changes leading to fertility problems too.
Keep cool! – Sperm is made at slightly lower body temperature so don’t spend too long in warm baths or wear tight pants!
Eat well – and be supportive to your partner.
Obviously both of you need to have regular sex, particularly around ovulation.
Six out of 10 couples will conceive with in 6 months of stopping contraception. If you have been trying to conceive for 2 or more years and have considered the above advice then perhaps speak to your GP.
Further information and references are at: