Trying to Conceive Clinic
Planning to get pregnant
20 tips for a well planned pregnancy
Of course not everyone plans to get pregnant and they still have healthy babies, but if you are planning to get pregnant, there are a few aspects of your lifestyle and well being that you can get in order before you start trying, to maximise your chances of a successful conception.
Planning ahead – practicalities
1. Home comfort
Think about your home space and whether you need to move or get any building work completed before having a family. In the first six months, your baby will be sleeping in a cot in your room and of course you can make changes later, but the stress and mess of moving or building work are not things you’ll want to contemplate while you’re pregnant!
To a certain extent we rarely feel we are completely ready for a baby, but think about what you want to do after your baby has arrived. Don’t feel pressurised into giving up work, but have a five year ideal plan in your mind and consider any ways you can start to put that into practice now.
In most areas the primary education facilities are usually pretty good, it’s the secondary schools that give parents sleepless nights! But if you think you will want to send your child to a private nursery, preparatory school etc, explore the websites of some of your local schools to get an idea of what the entry application process involves. This may help you decide whether moving is right for you.
Who will be taking care of your baby? If you plan to go back to work when your child is still a baby (at six months, for example) a nursery will charge more for looking after a baby, and if you are looking for home help an experienced nanny will probably be a preferable option for the very early years rather than an au pair. However you will need to consider the bigger picture – employing a nanny can cost over £30,000 by the time you have factored in employers tax and national insurance.
If there any major trips you have been planning to take if might be a good idea to get this done now. Some couples like to travel when their baby is small, but in the pregnancy months long haul treks to see family won’t be such a good idea.
Whether for travel, work or other health reasons, if you know you are going to need certain inoculations in the coming year it’s a good idea to get these out of the way before you start trying for a baby as some are not advised in pregnancy.
You might already be bracing yourself for the shopping list of pram, cot, clothes and so on, but also budget for an increase to your household running costs. Childcare and smaller details – you will be at home more during the day and you’ll have to run more washing cycles so your electricity and gas bills will be higher for at least the first three or four years.
Planning ahead – your health
8. Change your method of contraception
Some women get pregnant as soon as they come off the pill, but generally it’s a good idea to switch to a barrier method of contraception (eg condoms) a couple of months before you want to start trying for a baby. This gives your menstrual cycle a chance to get back on track naturally. A coil should be removed before trying to conceive, too.
9. Start taking folic acid
You should take a daily supplement of 400mcg of folic acid from about three months before you want to start trying for a baby and continue it through your first trimester of pregnancy.
10. Consider other supplements
Think about taking a more general prenatal supplement if you have a hectic life and tend to feel rundown often. Read more about prenatal supplements.
11. Cut out alcohol
You might want to either completely cut drinking out or at least cut down. Not only is there a risk that you will be drinking and already pregnant once you start trying for a baby, but alcohol can affect your well being, it can also affect the performance of sperm and the ability to have full intercourse.
12. Stop smoking
Smoking (and passive smoking) is harmful in pregnancy as it can affect the health of your unborn child and his health prospects in life. It’s good to get out of the habit before you conceive and in men, smoking can affect sperm count.
13. Take a zinc supplement
Men should prepare ahead as well as women with a daily prenatal supplement that includes a range of minerals and vitamins for good health, and 100 per cent of the recommended daily allowance of zinc. Zinc contributes to healthy sperm performance.
14. Have a sexual health check
Before you try for a baby it’s worth getting your sexual health checked out. Many common problems go undetected for years and whilst they may not affect you in obvious ways, they can cause ectopic pregnant, miscarriage or affect the health of your baby. Many are very easy to treat. For more on this, go to Preconception health checks.
15. Cut out drugs
If you or your partner take recreational drugs these can affect your chances of getting pregnant. Some drugs affect a low sperm count and can cause abnormalities in the development of the foetus.
16. Talk to your GP
If you have any ongoing conditions such as severe asthma, diabetes or other medical problems talk these through with your GP. It is amazing how many conditions nowadays are no barrier to a successful pregnancy whatsoever, but your medication might need to be adjusted or extra antenatal care might be necessary, and it’s worth planning ahead for this.
17. Genetic counselling
If there is any history of inherited conditions on either side of your families, ask your GP to refer you for genetic counselling. This should put your minds at rest.
18. Keep a menstrual diary
Knowing the dates of your periods now will help you work out what kind of cycle you are on. This can help with knowing when you are ovulating and will also help your obstetrician calculate a more accurate due date once you are pregnant.
19. Get your jabs up to date
There are some vaccines that are not good to have during pregnancy. If you need specific jabs for travel, work or another medical reason, make sure you find out now if you need to get them done ahead of pregnancy.
20. Get busy projects out of the way
If you or your partner travel a lot for work or have periods where working late means you’re not home before midnight most of the week then being in the right place at the right time each month isn’t always going to be easy. If there are big projects that need to be done first, where possible put off trying to conceive until you can both be together more regularly. Of course if this is unavoidable, maximise the chances of conceiving by making sure you are having sex around your most fertile time of the month. For more on this, go to Ovulation.
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