Preparing for pregnancy
Before you start trying to conceive a baby, you should see your doctor to have your medical history checked and make sure you’re in optimum pre-pregnancy health. Your doctor will carry out blood tests to check rubella and chicken pox immunity, perform a pap smear and breast check, and review any medications you may be taking. You and your partner should also be checked for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
There are also many simple changes you can make to your lifestyle to increase your chances of pregnancy, and of having a healthy baby.
Here are a few tips:
Healthy eating is important – for both partners
- A good fertility diet includes lots of vegetables and fruits of a variety of colours.
- Eat wholegrain cereals and breads. Try high fibre breakfast cereal, oats, brown rice and quinoa.
- Incorporate lean meats, poultry, fish and eggs (or alternatives such as nuts, seeds, tofu, legumes and beans) and reduced fat milk, yoghurt and cheese (or non-dairy alternatives).
- Stay hydrated – make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Avoid too many biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, burgers, pizza, fried food, chips, lollies, cordials, fruit drinks, energy and sports drinks.
- Keep alcohol to a minimum and caffeine intake low. One or two alcoholic drinks per week and one coffee a day are good guidelines.
- Eat less mercury-containing fish – like flake, marlin and swordfish.
- Aim for a healthy weight
Being underweight or overweight can reduce fertility for both men and women – it tends to be harder to get pregnant and to stay pregnant. The Australian government’s healthy weight website has more information on a balanced diet and exercise guidelines. Getting guidance from your GP, a dietician or naturopath is a good idea.
Folate is very important for a healthy pregnancy and should ideally be taken before you conceive, or as soon as you discover you are pregnant. There are specific supplements for pregnancy and pre-conception, but it is best to speak to your doctor before starting to take them.
Repeated exposure to environmental toxins like industrial chemicals, lead and mercury can reduce fertility, and long-term use of recreational drugs can have permanent negative effects on your fertility. Stop smoking.
Check with your GP to make sure any medications you may be taking are safe for pregnancy.