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Prepare Your Bodies For Getting Pregnant

Taking Vitamins and Food Supplements

What it does: To maximise your chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy, couples should be in the best possible health for at least 6 months prior to conception. Women are born with all the eggs that they will ever have. There is nothing you can do to change this, but you can affect the quality of your eggs. It takes 3-6 months for an egg to mature and be ready for ovulation. It also takes 3 months for a man's sperm to fully develop and mature. Eating a healthy and varied diet, when trying for a baby and when you are pregnant is essential and will help you to get most of the vitamins and minerals that you need. However, some conception vitamins and food supplements are especially important and you may need to take an extra supplement when you are trying for a baby or when you are pregnant.

What you can do: The UK Department of Health recommends that women should take:

400mcg folic acid (vitamin B9) supplement once a day whilst you are trying to conceive and for the first twelve weeks of your pregnancy

10mcg of vitamin D throughout your pregnancy until your baby is born and whilst you are breastfeeding

Warning: Pregnant women should avoid supplements and multivitamins containing vitamin A also known as retinol,  because too much vitamin A can harm your baby’s development

  

Stress

What it does: The stress and worry that many couples experience when trying for a baby can actually have a negative impact on both their sex drive and relationship. The feeling of having to schedule intercourse can also affect how regularly you want to have sex, which will ultimately affect your chances of getting pregnant.

What you can do: Prevent or alleviate the feeling of stress by taking some time out to do an activity that you enjoy, try yoga, meditation, or treat yourself to a massage. Exercise is a great way to reduce your stress levels because it helps to deplete stress hormones and releases mood-enhancing chemicals to help us cope with stress better. Making sure you get enough sleep can also help to reduce stress.

Having sexual intercourse regularly, every 1 to 2 days, during your fertile window (a six day period of time, commencing five days before ovulation and including the day you ovulate) will give you best chance of getting pregnant. However, if this is not possible, 2 to 3 times per week is adequate.

 

 

Alcohol

What it does: For women, updated advice from The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists states that drinking around conception and during the first three months of pregnancy can increase your risk of miscarriage and that drinking alcohol may affect the unborn baby as some can pass through the placenta. For men, drinking excessively can reduce the quality of their sperm.

What you can do: As there is no proven safe amount that women can drink during pregnancy, women who are pregnant or are trying to concieve should avoid alcohol altogether. For men up to 3-4 units per day is unlikely to affect your semen quality.

 

Smoking

What it does: For women directly or passive smoking is likely to reduce their fertility and their chance of concieving. For men, smoking can reduce semen quality, although the impact on fertility is currently unknown.

What you can do: It is important for both partners to stop smoking when trying for a baby. Talk to your Pharmacist or Doctor about smoking cessation programmes and the products available to help you quit. Stopping smoking will also improve your general health.

 

Caffeine

There is currently no consistent evidence that links fertility problems with drinking beverages containing caffeine. It is thought that moderate consumption of caffeine should not cause fertility problems, however, excessive consumption is more likely to have an effect. The NHS recommends a limit of 200mg a day of caffeine, the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee.

 

Your Diet and Fitness

What it does: Being over or under weight can affect your chances of getting pregnant, or mean it can take you longer to conceive. Women with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 19 and who are having irregular periods or no periods may have reduced fertility, and men and women with a BMI of 30 or over are more likely to encounter fertility problems.

What you can do: Eat a balanced diet and increase your intake of fruit and vegetables, this will increase your intake of the nutrients that your body needs. Exercise is a great way to reduce body fat and increase your sex drive! Keeping fit will also help you handle the strain that pregnancy puts on your body.

 

Tight Underwear

What it does: There is a link between increased scrotal temperature and reduced semen quality.

What you can do: Wearing loose underwear may help to keep the scrotum cool. However, this has not been proven to improve fertility.

 

Over the Counter Medication and Recreational Drugs

What it does: Some medicines that you can buy over the counter from your pharmacy and recreational drugs can affect both female and male fertility.

What you can do: It is important to seek further advice from your Doctor or Pharmacist relating specifically to your circumstances.

 

 

 

 

1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, Fertility, Assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems, February 2013, NICE clinical guideline 156, guidance.nice.org.uk

2. Optimizing Natural Fertility. Fertil Steril 2008;90:S1-6

3. NHS England, NHS choices, your health, your choices [internet], http://www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx/ (accessed February 14 2015)

4. NHS.uk, Limit caffeine during pregnancy - Health questions - NHS Choices [internet], 2015, available from http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/limit-caffeine-during-pregnancy.aspx?CategoryID=54&SubCategoryID=216, (accessed on February 14 2015)

Last updated 21.08.2017