Planning a Pregnancy can be an exciting but also an anxiety provoking time, you may well find yourself second guessing everything you are doing, checking your ovulation windows, and generally trying to be the healthiest version of yourself.
The great news is there are things that you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant and the month’s prior to a pregnancy is a fantastic window of opportunity to set your body up for a smoother, healthy pregnancy journey too.
The odds are probably already in your favour as for women under 40 years of age, who have sex regularly there is an 80% chance of becoming pregnant within 1 of trying. Getting the sperm and egg to meet is important of course, but so is having a healthy environment for an embryo to grow in so ultimately your pregnancy can continue into a healthy baby. The aim therefore shouldn’t just be getting a positive pregnancy test result but having a healthy, sustained pregnancy.
A healthy lifestyle is powerful tool in improving your conception chances and reduces the chance of pregnancy complications and miscarriage, so it is time to really start thinking about these things:
· Stopping smoking and drinking alcohol- remember there are services available to assist you with this if you need support.
· Limiting caffeine consumption to 200mg/ per day.
· Optimising your weight and eating a nourishing balanced diet- women with a BMI in a healthy range are less likely to have complications with conceiving.
· Undertaking regular exercise- being active and spending less time sedentary may help with conception and there is no evidence to suggest evidence negatively impacts fertility.
· Avoiding pollutants and managing stress are also important lifestyle factors to consider in the modern-day world to help you conceive.
It is never too early to consider supplements when planning a pregnancy to both help with conception and then help your baby to grow healthily, and there are some key ones to be aware of:
· Vitamin D- A daily supplement of 10mcg is recommenced. Deficiency in Vitamin D has been linked to physical issues such as rickets in children but also in the development of ADHD, IQ and language issues.
· Folic acid- This should be taken when trying to get pregnant and throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. 400mcg is recommended, although some women may be advised a higher dose. This helps your body to make healthy blood cells and supports proper development of a baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord in the neural tube. This development happens very early and deficiencies can lead to defects such as Spina Bifida.
Your diet is a great way of ensuring you optimise the other micronutrients needed for a healthy conception:
· Iron is an important micronutrient that many women are lacking in, in fact half of pregnant women are deficient in Iron. Iron deficiency can result in developmental and birth complications for mothers and babies so ensuring you are eating a diet high in iron rich foods is important.
· Omega-3 fatty acids are another important nutrient to consider when trying to conceive as they have been linked to improved embryo quality.
· Your Gut Microbiome is something to really consider at this time of your life too, this is all the healthy bacteria in your gut essential for many aspects of your health including your fertility health. Your gut bacteria loves variety, so a wide range of colourful and probiotic foods are beneficial.
And lastly, try to enjoy this time in your life and lean into the excitement and adventure it may begin. It can easily become task orientated and intimacy can fade away as a result, so keep the spark alive whilst trying to time regular sex every 2-3 days around your time of ovulation (which is typically 14-16 days before your period).
To listen to my own Pregnancy Journal as I began to plan my first pregnancy check out this week’s Podcast Episode, in partnership with Aptaclub and available on all podcast platforms Midwife Pip Podcast Episode 124. Pips Pregnancy Journal Part 2