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When you are planning to have a baby, it is important to review your health and lifestyle to ensure you are giving yourself the best chance to conceive and to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Your baby’s health and development can be affected by your health and lifestyle prior to conception and during your pregnancy, so it is important to look at the various changes you can make and steps you can take before becoming pregnant that can be beneficial to you and your baby in the long-term.
Here are some things that prospective parents are encouraged to review before trying to become pregnant.
Please ensure that you visit your GP prior to trying to conceive. Your doctor will check a series of factors that have the potential to affect your pregnancy and baby. These include:
Prior to, during and following your pregnancy, your diet should be balanced and healthy containing fresh, unprocessed food including lots of vegetables, as well as fruit, grains, lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and dairy products.
Prior to and during their pregnancies, some women may require supplements to optimise their health. These may include:
Folic acid can reduce the risk of conditions such as spina bifida and neural tube defects. It is recommended for women to take at least 0.5mg of folic acid daily for at least a month prior to a planned pregnancy, and through the first 3 months of pregnancy.
A 5mg daily dose of folic acid is recommended for women in the following groups:
Iodine is important for infant brain development and is recommended at 150mcg per day prior to and during your pregnancy, as well as if you are breastfeeding.
Regular, moderate exercise is beneficial for your fertility, as well as your health and wellbeing as a whole.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important when trying to conceive as women who are underweight or overweight are more at risk of a variety of problems in pregnancy.
If you are very underweight, you may experience fertility issues and your baby may be at risk of nutritional problems.
If you are overweight or obese this can also cause fertility problems and increase the risk of miscarriage or other problems for your baby and your pregnancy. These can include:
It is recommended that if you are not currently a healthy weight, you take steps towards improving this prior to trying to conceive.
Not all medications are safe to take during pregnancy. Please ensure you check all medication you are currently taking (prescribed or over the counter) and discuss these with your GP prior to trying to conceive.
Drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and taking illicit drugs all have adverse effects on fertility in men and women, as well as on pregnancy, and the development of your baby.
The safest option for women trying to conceive is to stop consumption of any of the above products. Please seek help with quitting if you need to.
It is important that any medical conditions you are currently dealing with are appropriately managed and controlled where possible prior to attempting to conceive to give you the best chance for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Please discuss any conditions with your GP prior to conception.
When seeking to conceive, both prospective parents should seek to reduce their exposure to toxins, infections and radiation in their daily lives.
If you are travelling to an area which may increase your risk of an infection which may affect your pregnancy (such as Zika virus), please seek medical advice prior to travelling.
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