Preparing for Pregnancy
Preparing for pregnancy – women
Look at your weight. A healthy weight helps conception and makes pregnancy more comfortable. A carefully monitored weight-loss diet can be safe during pregnancy and is occasionally advised for women who are seriously overweight, but always check with your doctor who may suggest a referral to a dietician.
Being underweight can make you less fertile, while being overweight puts you at greater risk of complications such as high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy. There is also a higher risk of complications during labour and birth.
Smoking in pregnancy raises the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and low birth weight. It has effects into toddlerhood and childhood, too, mainly by increasing the risk of respiratory illness.
Stop drinking, or reduce your intake to a couple of units. Advice is that women trying to conceive should avoid alcohol completely though other expert views are that this is not necessary, though women should be careful to restrict intake to one or two units a week
Take a folic acid supplement. Folic acid – sometimes called folate – is an important B vitamin that’s been shown to prevent neural tube defects (NTD) such as spina bifida. It’s recommended that you start taking a supplement before you start trying to conceive, as NTDs occur in early pregnancy. The recommended dose is 400mcg a day.
Folic acid is also found in dark green vegetables, oranges, wholewheat breads and breakfast cereals.
It may sound obvious, but regular sex increases your chance of getting pregnant. Work out your most fertile time and ensure you make love every day around those dates.
Women mostly ovulate once during each cycle, and the most likely time for conception is 14 days before your next menstrual period is due.
Also check your vaginal discharge – it will have a stretchy consistency when you’re at your most fertile. You’ll get to know what looks and feels normal for you, and to spot the changes, if you do this regularly.
Preparing for pregnancy – men
Give up smoking.
Smoking can reduce fertility, and partners of men who smoke have a reduced chance of conceiving too. Fathers who smoke also affect the health of their babies, before and after the birth. The risk of respiratory problems and cot death increases, for example.
If you drink heavily, cut down or stop.
Heavy drinking may affect sperm quality and make a successful pregnancy less likely.
Keep stress to a minimum.
It can cause hormonal changes in the body, which can lead to fertility problems.
Sperm is made at slightly below body temperature, so don’t spend too long in warm baths and wear boxer shorts to improve circulation around the testicles.
A healthy diet and regular exercise will reduce stress and increase your overall fitness, and they’re good ways of showing support for your partner, too.