You can get ready for pregnancy by changing some habits and adopting new lifestyle rules, that could make a difference to the health of your pregnancy and your baby. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for pregnancy calmly, while letting nature take its course.
• Talk to your doctor or gynaecologist
Talk to your doctor or gynaecologist about your general health, your vaccinations, any iron deficiency, your lifestyle and your cycle. They will be able to give you advice on how to prepare yourself and anticipate any risks. If you have a long-term condition, such as epilepsy or diabetes, it could affect the decisions you make about your pregnancy – for example, where you might want to give birth; before you get pregnant, you should have a discussion with your doctor about getting pregnant.
• Stop taking your contraception
Whether you are on the pill, IUD, implant or any other method, the first thing to do is to stop your contraception. After that, the time to conceive depends on each woman. You may become pregnant in the next cycle or you may have to wait several months.
• Find your ovulation period
Identifying favourable days for conception is an essential step in maximising your chances of conceiving. The 2 or 3 days before the day of ovulation and the day itself would be the ideal period for the fertilisation of the egg. It is during this period that sperm can meet an egg and fertilise it. Both the menstrual cycle and the date of ovulation vary from woman to woman and are not always regular. To know the moment of ovulation and therefore the most fertile period of your cycle, you can use an ovulation calculator.
• Eat well
From the very first days of pregnancy, the embryo will draw the energy and nutrients necessary for its proper development from your reserves. It can take several months for a woman to build up satisfactory reserves of minerals and vitamins.
A balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, is more important than ever. Give preference to foods rich in iron and vitamin B9 (also known as folic acid or folate). These play an essential role, from the very first weeks, in the development of the embryo’s nervous system. And of course, avoid alcohol if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant, as alcohol can be passed to your unborn baby.
You should also take a 400-microgram supplement of folic acid every day before you get pregnant and every day afterwards, up until you are 12 weeks pregnant. Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida (a neural tube defect is when the foetus's spinal cord (part of the body's nervous system) does not form normally).
• Stop smoking
Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to a variety of health problems, such as premature birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), miscarriage, breathing problems or wheezing in the first 6 months of life. Quitting smoking can be hard, no matter how much you want to, but support is available.
• Know which medicines you can take
Not all medicines are safe to take during pregnancy or when planning to have a baby, whether they're on prescription or over-the-counter ones. If you take prescribed medicines and you're planning to get pregnant, talk to a doctor. Do not stop taking your medicine without talking to a doctor.
Being fit will make pregnancy and childbirth easier. If you are not athletic, daily walking is a great way to start. Before embarking on an exercise programme, consult a sports professional to make sure it’s right for your physical condition. This is also a good time to stop smoking.
• Avoid stress
Fertile couples have a 20% conception rate per cycle, or a 1 in 4 chance of getting pregnant. The stress of wanting a baby can reduce your chances of conceiving a baby. Before worrying, it is advisable to give yourself time. Gynaecologists agree that there is no need to worry until a year has passed.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help and talk to your doctor.