Pregnancy
Pregnancy
Birth
bar
Drop In Center
Interactive Tools
Forums
Ask the Experts
glossary
Trading Place
Associations Directory

Getting ready for pregnancy
 
Physical Fitness
A good starting point is to visit your family doctor for a check-up about six months before you plan to conceive. Your doctor will give you suitable advice based on your personal circumstances. Why not take your partner along with you so he fully understands the importance of the measures you will be advised to take. By sharing the responsibility, you will both find it easier to make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle.

Regular Exercise
If you don't exercise on a regular basis, now is the time to start rather than wait until you are pregnant. Taking regular exercise does not mean working out at the gym several times each week. It means simply incorporating some exercise into your daily routine. For example, try walking or cycling to the shops or your place of work rather than taking the bus or driving. Walk up stairs rather than taking a lift. Exercise can be fun and it's a pastime both you and your partner can do together. For example, swimming is an excellent form of exercise because it allows you to stretch and tone your muscles without putting excessive stress on them.

Dental Care
It is important to have a dental check-up and any necessary treatment before trying to conceive since some forms of dental care e.g. X-rays, can be harmful to your baby once you are pregnant. Also, some women are prone to gum disease during pregnancy so a pre-pregnancy check-up and then regular visits to the dentist during pregnancy can help prevent any potential problems.

Watching Your Weight
During your pre-pregnancy period, it is a good idea to get your weight to a reasonable level. If you are overweight it is a good idea to try to lose the surplus before you conceive. Dieting during pregnancy is not advisable because cutting back your calories may have a harmful effect on your baby's growth and development. Your family doctor will be able to advise you accordingly.

Folic Acid
Taking Folic Acid supplements before conception and in early pregnancy can help to reduce the risk of having a baby with Spina Bifida and other neural tube defects. It is generally recommended that all women planning pregnancy should take at least 0.4 mg of Folic Acid daily for four weeks before conception and for the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Folic Acid supplements should be available from your local pharmacy. It is also advisable to eat foods that are rich in Folic Acid. These include:


Green salad
Raw or lightly cooked vegetables
Fresh fruit
Fortified breakfast cereals
Wholemeal bread

If you have any questions about Folic Acid, talk to your family doctor when you visit for your check-up.

Smoking and Drinking Alcohol
It is now quite well known that smoking and drinking too much alcohol can be harmful to your health. However, it is less well known that smoking and drinking can also have damaging effects on both a developing baby and on future pregnancies.

Drinking alcohol regularly, even in small quantities, can reduce the fertility of both partners thus making conception less likely. Smoking can result in the birth of a smaller and less intelligent baby and small babies tend to be more vulnerable. Furthermore, recent concern is also being expressed about the health risks associated with passive smoking, that is, a non-smoker inhaling smoke while in the company of smokers.

Research by Birmingham University in December 1996 suggests that men who smoke between 10 to 20 cigarettes a day have a 31 per cent higher chance of fathering a child who dies of cancer. The assumption is that smoking causes cancer in children by damaging their father's sperm. The Cancer Research Campaign acknowledges that the majority of childhood cancers are caused by factors which occur prior to birth and it seems plausible that paternal smoking could be one of them. This new study therefore gives a compelling reason for men who smoke, and want to have children, to quit prior to attempting to conceive.

So, as part of your pre-pregnancy routine you should both try to stop smoking and cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink. Your family doctor will be able to give you more advice and support.

Eating a Healthy Diet
You need to eat a wide variety of foods to give you all the vitamins and nutrients you need for a healthy body. Listed below are four important food groups that you should eat each day:


Meat, Fish, Eggs and Pulses (e.g. beans and lentils)
These foods contain protein and iron and should be included in at least two meals each day. If you are a vegetarian, your doctor can advise you on suitable alternatives.
Fruits and Vegetables
High in minerals and vitamins, particularly vitamin C. You should try to eat 3-4 pieces of fruit each day or 3-4 portions of vegetables.
High Fibre Bread and Cereals, Pasta and Brown Rice
These foods are high in fibre, calcium and vitamin B and should be eaten 4-6 times each day.
Milk and Milk Products
Dairy products contain protein, calcium and a variety of vitamins. You should try to drink at least one pint of milk each day. Semi-skimmed milk is a satisfactory alternative to full fat milk.

Please note, any extra or supplementary vitamins and minerals should only be taken after consulting your doctor. You should also consult your doctor if you suffer from any allergies to any of the above foods groups.

Food Hygiene and Safety
There are certain foods which should be avoided during the pre-pregnancy period as well as during pregnancy, because they can contain harmful bacteria, such as Listeria and Salmonella. Foods containing high levels of Vitamin A should also be avoided, as they may be harmful to your developing baby. It is therefore advisable to avoid:


Unpasteurised cheeses such as Brie and Stilton
Pâté
Raw or soft boiled eggs
Raw or lightly cooked meats
Liver or foods made from liver
Cod liver oil

Also, the way foods are prepared and kept may encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. Normally, the effect of food poisoning in an adult is not serious but it can be far more damaging to a developing baby. Having said that, the recent deaths in Scotland caused by the e-coli bacteria show how life threatening food poisoning can be. So, to keep foods as safe as possible, you should adhere to the following:

Wash your hands thoroughly before handling food or eating
Check the use-by date of any shop-bought foods
Put chilled or frozen foods in your refrigerator or freezer soon after purchase
Keep your refrigerator temperature to less than 5°C and your freezer at -18°C or below
Make sure that raw foods (e.g. salad and fruit) are well washed before eating
Make sure that all reheated food is piping hot before serving, and do not reheat food more than once
Cover food in your refrigerator and store raw and cooked food separately in covered containers

Contraception
During your pre-pregnancy period you will still need to continue using some form of contraception until you feel ready for pregnancy. You can continue with your usual method except if you have been taking oral contraceptives (the pill). Before trying to conceive, it is advisable to wait at least one to three months after stopping the pill, so that your periods become more regular (the time taken for your periods to return to a regular cycle is often dependent upon your age and the length of time you have been on the pill). When you become pregnant your doctor will need to know the date of your last period in order to calculate the date your baby is due. The more regular your periods are, the more accurate your doctor can be. When you stop taking the pill, try one of the barrier methods such as a condom or diaphragm until you are ready to conceive. Ask your doctor or family planning clinic for further advice.

Harmful Substances and Infections
Some infections or toxic substances may not be particularly harmful to you as an adult, but they might linger in the body and affect your baby at conception. To be safe, follow these simple tips:

German Measles (Rubella)
Exposure to this virus during early pregnancy can result in a seriously handicapped baby. Most girls receive a Rubella vaccination at school but it is advisable to have a blood test to check your immunity, prior to conceiving. If you are not immune you should be vaccinated as soon as possible. Then you should avoid becoming pregnant for the next three months as the mild form of the virus used in the vaccination could still be in your body.

Medicines
If either you or your partner are taking medications, even mild pain killers, discuss them with your doctor. Some medications may be harmful during pregnancy, so it's advisable to seek advice and possibly change medication. This also goes for any other treatments you may be receiving. If you are prescribed any medication, it is best to tell your doctor that you are planning to conceive so that adjustments can be made if necessary.

Toxoplasmosis
This is a common infection caused by a parasite found in cats' faeces, soil, raw or uncooked meats and unpasteurised 'green top' milk. It can affect both animals and humans, and can harm unborn babies. To avoid infection try to follow these simple rules:


Avoid handling cat litter. Ask your partner to empty the litter tray, or if you have to do it yourself always wear rubber gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. The used litter should be bagged and sealed
Wear rubber gloves when gardening to avoid infection from the soil
Make sure you wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before use
Always wash your hands before and after handling meat, and store both cooked and raw meats in separate covered containers in your refrigerator
Avoid unpasteurised milk and its products

Chemicals and Pesticides
Although best avoided, if you have to use strong household chemicals e.g. weed killers or cleaning fluids, wear rubber gloves to prevent these harmful substances getting into your body through your skin. Also, try not to use them in confined or poorly ventilated places because of the danger of breathing in harmful vapours.

Genetic Diseases
If either of you or any of your family members have genetically inherited diseases such as Tay-Sachs, sickle cell anaemia, haemophilia or cystic fibrosis, you may find that you are carriers of such genetic traits. Therefore, if this is of concern to you, please talk to your doctor before you conceive to discuss the tests that are available.

Overseas Travel
If you are planning to conceive shortly after your marriage and you intend to honeymoon overseas, it is advisable to determine from your doctor what sort of diseases are common in the country you will be visiting. If any inoculations are required, you will be advised as to their effect on your ability to conceive.

<< back to Trying to Conceive
 
 

About us | Advertising Information | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Testimonials
add BabyGuideUK to your favorites

Copyright © BabyGuideUK, All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction of any part of our website's content is illegal without our permission.