Making changes to your lifestyle can improve your chances of getting pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy, and having a healthy baby. This is known as preconception care. Pre conception care should begin at least three months before you get pregnant. Some women need more time to get their bodies ready for pregnancy. Be sure to discuss your partner's health too. Women and men should prepare for pregnancy before becoming sexually active — or at least three months before getting pregnant. Some actions, such as quitting smoking, reaching a healthy weight, or adjusting medicines you are using, should start even earlier.
If you have a medical condition it is important to speak to your Doctor before planning a pregnancy. Some times it is advised that you are seen by the Maternal Medicine Team for specialist advice. This is dependant on your individual circumstances
Some of the most important things you can do when preparing for pregnancy are;
Take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid every day before you get pregnant, and every day afterwards, up until you're 12 weeks pregnant. This reduces the risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine, including spina bifida. All women need folic acid every day. You should discuss your folic acid needs with your Doctor, as you may require a higher dose depending on the circumstances.
Quit smoking. If you are a smoker and planning to have a baby, the best thing you can do is stop before trying to get pregnant. Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb. If you give up smoking, your chances of getting pregnant will increase. Women who smoke are twice as likely to be infertile as non-smokers. This applies to women trying to become pregnant for the ﬁrst time and for women who have been pregnant before. Smoking can also affect the success rates of fertility treatment, such as IVF (In vitro fertilisation).
Do not drink alcohol if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and your baby having a low birthweight. It can also cause long term effects on your baby after they're born.
Keep to a healthy weight. If you're overweight, you may have problems getting pregnant and fertility treatment is less likely to work. Being overweight (having a BMI over 25) or obese (having a BMI over 30) also raises the risk of some pregnancy problems, such as high blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis, miscarriage and gestational diabetes.
Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are using. These include dietary or herbal supplements. Not all medicines are safe to take when you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, whether they're on prescription or medicines you can buy in a pharmacy or shop.
Keep up to date with all your vaccinations.
Below are some excellent resources for preconception planning;