Trying to get pregnant?
When trying to get pregnant there are some things you can do to prepare, especially around health and well-being for both you and your partner, and optimize your chances of becoming pregnant.
Consider healthy lifestyle choices. Eat a well balanced diet including lots of fruit and vegetables for the vitamins and minerals your body requires. Cut out alcohol and stop smoking, as this can increase your chances of conception, a health pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Organise a visit to your GP or Family Planning to discuss any pre-pregnancy tests required, like your rubella status and blood type. Discuss any medical conditions you may have and talk about any medications you are taking.
To reduce the risk of Neural Tube defects such as Spina Bifida start Folic Acid at least 1 month before an intended pregnancy, or as soon as your pregnancy has been confirmed. Take this for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Also start Iodine once your pregnancy has been confirmed as this help with growth and development of a baby’s brain.
Discontinue the use of any contraception. For some women it may take time for your body to adjust back to its own cycle if you have been using hormone based contraception.
Understanding and awareness of your body cycles especially signs of ovulation will help you plan the best times to try and get pregnant. Family Planning has great fertility awareness information on their website: http://www.familyplanning.org.nz/
Having a high body mass index (BMI) may hinder getting pregnant. Aim to be within the appropriate BMI range for your height.
If you have been trying to conceive for 12 months if you are under 35 and have been having unprotected intercourse, and after 6 months if you are over 35 and are starting to get worried that you have not become pregnant, seek advice from your GP. There are many reasons why you may not be falling pregnant, and you GP can help with some simple tests, for both you and your partner, or you may need referral to see a gynaecologist.
Health and wellbeing
Your health and lifestyle will affect your pregnancy. It's worth visiting your existing medical specialist, GP or a nurse before you get pregnant. They will give you advice on what you can do to get your pregnancy off to the best start, including what you eat, fitness and any medical conditions you have.
Some types of medication are harmful to an unborn baby. If you have a medical condition (such as epilepsy, asthma or diabetes) talk to your GP about the fact you want to get pregnant. Some medicines sold over the counter should be avoided because they are not safe early in pregnancy.
If you plan to get pregnant you should focus on getting and maintaining a healthy body weight, make sure you eat a wide range of food to benefit from different nutrients.
You can significantly reduce the risk of birth defects including spina bifida by taking folic acid both before and during pregnancy. If you plan to get pregnant, take a 0.8mg folic acid tablet once a day for at least 4 weeks before conception. Tablets can be prescribed by your GP or can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy.
Even if your pregnancy is not planned it is still worthwhile taking folic acid in your first 12 weeks and commencing Iodine when you know you're pregnant and throughout breastfeeding.
Alcohol and Recreational Drugs
When you are pregnant if you drink alcohol or take recreational drugs it will be carried to your baby through your bloodstream. Drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of problems for your baby including learning disorders, and behavioural or social problems. You should avoid alcohol if you're planning to get pregnant.
If you have a problem with alcohol talk to your GP or call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline 0800 787 797
Help to Quit Smoking
Smoking during pregnancy is linked to health risks for both the mother and the baby. It is better to stop smoking before you get pregnant but even quitting while you are pregnant will help. It’s usually okay for pregnant and breastfeeding women to use nicotine patches, gum and/or lozenges.
Information on how to quit smoking is available from Quitline. Their website has lots of online tools to help you quit smoking.
Hutt Hospital runs a smoking cessation clinic every Wednesday. To find out more call 0800 926 257.
Support is also available from: