Getting your body ready for trying for a baby needn’t be too complicated or stressful – for you it’s mostly to do with looking after yourself and preparing your body to create and carry new life. For your partner it's about a healthy diet to aid a healthy and successful conception.
Give your body a health check
Before you start trying to get pregnant, it's a good idea to give yourself a health check:
Smoking: Smoking will severely reduce your chances of actually conceiving, on top of being potentially harmful to your baby's development and giving you a higher risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancies. If you smoke, try and give up now. Your doctor should be able to help you.
Diet and exercise: Being too over or under weight may affect your fertility. Exercise and a well balanced diet will also help you get your body in tip-top shape to try for a baby.
You should cut back on processed foods and foods containing high levels of fat and sugar. Also make sure you’re getting:
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables - at least 5 portions a day and from a variety of colours
- Plenty of starchy foods - like rice, bread, pasta (preferably wholegrain, which contains more folic acid), oats and potatoes
- Protein with each meal - such as lean meat and chicken, fish (twice a week), dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds and pulses
Vitamin supplements: If you have a balanced diet you probably don't need extra vitamins but if you are taking supplements, make sure they're suitable for women trying to conceive. Regular vitamin supplements often contain Vitamin A, which could be harmful in too large a dose.
Folic acid: Folic acid is important as it helps prevent some developmental defects, such as Spina Bifida. Folic acid occurs in some foods, such as fortified breakfast cereals, bananas and leafy green vegetables but it's difficult to get enough every day to match the 400 micrograms recommended for women planning for pregnancy. That’s why it’s recommended that you take a folic acid supplement during pregnancy. So if you’re not already taking it, it’s a good idea to start now and continue until your 12th week of pregnancy.
Medications: Some medicines can lower your fertility levels, so check with your doctor if you are taking any, and if you've been recently using an IUD, Depo-Provera or Norplant, or have been sterilised. If you've recently been taking the pill it may be a good idea to allow your body to adjust for a couple of months before you start trying to conceive but, again, that's something to talk to your doctor about.
Stress: Our modern lifestyles can often be stressful and it'll help your chances of conception if you try to keep stress to a minimum – although it's often easier said than done!
Get your partner involved too!
Of course, how quickly you get pregnant isn't all down to you. Your partner has a very important role to play too! He should try to:
- Stop smoking and avoid any excessive intake of alcohol.
- Reduce caffeine intake.
- Reduce his stress levels.
- Stay away from hazardous work environments: some chemicals can affect his sperm.
- Keep his testicles cool: make sure he's got some roomy, cotton underpants and ensure his trousers aren’t too tight.
- Encourage him to eat well: plenty of fruit and vegetables will provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C - essential for producing healthy sperm. Foods high in Zinc are good for virility so he should be eating foods such as seafood, wholefoods, meat, eggs, seeds and wholegrain. Lots of calcium-rich dairy foods and iron-rich red meat and pulses should also be on the menu.
Stay relaxed and enjoy the practice!
The best advice for any couple trying for a baby is to relax and enjoy the practice! Mother Nature often doesn't want to feel rushed or pressured.
It's a good idea to keep having a fun and loving sexual relationship all month – so you don't begin to only associate sex with making babies and pile the pressure on each other.
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