Preparing for pregnancy
Pre-conception health for women & men is important for fertility & should include:
- Quitting smoking. Couples where both partners are smokers have a two-fold chance of infertility. Smoking can affect the quality of eggs, increase the incidence of birth malformations, such as cleft palate, and lead to pre-term birth;3
- Achieving and maintaining an ideal, healthy weight. The ideal BMI for both men and women is 18.5-24.9. It becomes more difficult to conceive with a BMI greater than 25. Shedding just 5-10 per cent of body weight can improve the chances of ovulation and subsequent pregnancy. Conversely, being underweight can lead to ovulation disorders and infertility;3,12
- Reviewing alcohol consumption. Alcohol can cause direct damage to eggs and sperm, and the embryo’s development in early pregnancy;3
- Following a healthy diet. Eating healthily will not only reduce pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, but can also reduce the likelihood of the child becoming obese;3
- Commencing a daily intake of folic acid. Women need a minimum daily dose of 400mcg of folic acid in their bloodstream for the development of their baby’s central nervous system within the first four weeks of development.3 Foods containing folic acid include green vegetables, beans and cereals, however, they are insufficient alone. So its vital 'for a woman to take a daily folic acid supplement from at least a month prior to conception, and for a minimum of the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Iodine is also essential for foetal brain development;3
- Beginning a daily pre-conception supplement. Clinical studies show men who eat anti-oxidant-rich foods have improved sperm count and motility. Antioxidants are micronutrients that protect your body against damage caused by free radicals, which are molecules that form in the body due to oxidative processes, such as food digestion. Antioxidants and minerals that help support sperm health include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, lycopene, folic acid, zinc and garlic;3
- Engaging in regular sex. Two-to-three times per week;3
- Women recognising their most fertile time;3
- A pre-pregnancy antenatal check-up with a doctor to determine immunity and rule out health factors that may affect fertility and pregnancy;3 and
- Self-nurturing. Stress is often a constant companion in our lives, so it’s important to relax as much as possible.3
3. Conceiveplease™ Getting pregnant naturally.
12. Balen AH (2007) ‘Impact of obesity on female reproductive health: British Fertility Society, Policy & Practice Guidelines’, Human Fertility. 10(4);195-206.