How Healthy Habits Can Help You Conceive
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!
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