Preconception health – 10 top tips
To give yourself the best chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy, healthcare professionals recommend a healthy lifestyle before you start to try for a baby. So with that in mind, here are tens top tips for improving your health.
- A good diet gets your body stocked up with the nutrients you need to have a healthy pregnancy. Get in the habit of eating five portions of fruit and veg each day. Try to increase your calcium intake, and cut down on sugar and salt.
- Excessive alcohol is not helpful. The Chief Medical Officers for the UK recommend the safest approach is not to drink alcohol if you’re pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, to minimise risks to your baby.
- Smoking, including passive smoking, can reduce fertility in women and men, so even if you sneak off for a cheeky cigarette every now and then, or hang out with those that do, the advice is to stop completely.
- Folic acid is crucial for the healthy development of a baby by dramatically cutting the chances of neural-tube defects such as Spina Bifida by up to 70%. So taking a folic acid supplement each day for two or three months before you conceive until twelve weeks of pregnancy is essential. A 400micrograms daily supplement is advised.
- Women should take a vitamin supplement specially made for conception and pregnancy. Don’t take the regular multivitamin supplement as the level of vitamin A may be too high for use in pregnancy.
- If you take regular medication such as prescriptions, supplements, herbals, it’s important that you check with your doctor what is safe to continue taking. Do not stop taking your medication without consulting a doctor or pharmacist.
- Reduce your caffeine intake to no more than 2 cups of coffee per day.
- Maintaining a healthy weight of BMI 20-30 improves ovulation, and reduces early miscarriage.
- Do check with your General Practitioner that you are immune to Rubella and Chicken Pox before trying to conceive. A simple blood test can confirm this.
- Make sure you get out in the fresh air and get some exercise to collect your thoughts and allow yourself to continue with your day-to-day life with a positive and healthy mindset.
If you have any concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional. Sharing any worries or excitement with close friends and family can be helpful as well, but be aware of scare-stories and information overload! Take it step by step. By preparing yourself physically and mentally, you’re giving yourself the best chance at conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.