If you want to start a family, there are probably many baby related thoughts spinning around your head. Maybe you’re writing a list of potential names, planning how you’d like the nursery to look, or thinking about all the cute baby clothes you can’t wait to get your hands on.
If you’ve just started trying for a baby or have been trying for a while, a big question you may be thinking about is your fertility and if there is anything you can do to help you along the way. Although there are factors that can affect your fertility which are out of your control like your age and certain medical conditions, your lifestyle choices can have an impact on your ability to conceive.
You’re more likely to fall pregnant if you and your partner are both in good health. If you're worried about the impact of your lifestyle choices on your fertility or you’ve been trying for a baby for more than one year, speak with your Doctor.
Making positive changes to your lifestyle can improve your chances of getting pregnant and help you to have a healthy pregnancy.
Being overweight or underweight can cause your periods to become irregular or make them stop altogether which can make it more difficult for you to conceive. Women with a BMI under 19 or over 30 may have problems getting pregnant. Your body doesn’t have to be a temple of health but reaching, and maintaining a healthy weight, can help to increase your chances of conceiving naturally. Remember though, it isn’t just your fertility that can benefit from losing weight if you’re overweight. You can also reduce your risk of some potentially serious health conditions including heart problems and type 2 diabetes. Your weight is considered healthy if your body mass index (BMI) is between 20 and 25.
Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet go hand in hand. We all enjoy an occasional take-away on a Friday night but it’s all about balance. You don’t have to wait until you’re pregnant to start eating well for your baby. If you and your partner stick to a healthy, balanced diet, it can help to prepare your body for pregnancy. On the whole, choose wholegrain high fibre foods, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables and eat more unsaturated ‘good’ fats, such as avocados, nuts, oily fish and seeds.
It's recommended that all women who are trying to get pregnant take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid everyday up until they're 12 weeks pregnant to protect against neural tube defects (NTD), such as spina bifida. Don’t worry if you get pregnant and you weren’t taking folic acid supplements. Start taking them as soon as you find out, until you're past the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Let’s face it, many of us like a drink from time to time but drinking alcohol can affect fertility in both men and women. It can reduce fertility levels in women and can affect sperm quality in men. If you're pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, the safest approach is to not drink alcohol at all to keep the risks to a minimum.
Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions and can reduce your fertility. Stopping smoking is an amazing thing you can do for your health and the health of those around you. It’s best to give up smoking before trying for a baby as smoking during pregnancy can lead to premature births, stillbirths and miscarriages. If you’re still smoking whilst pregnant, there’s support to help you quit. Ask your pharmacist or Doctor for advice.
We get it. Lubricant isn’t a very sexy topic of conversation. But as sex can sometimes become a mission rather than a pleasure when trying for a baby, many couples use a lubricant to help make sex more comfortable. Some lubricants may contain ingredients and/or have a pH that may affect sperm. Others are branded as sperm-friendly, as they mimic the consistency of cervical mucus, creating an environment to try and support conception. If you and your partner are using a lubricant whilst trying for a baby then you may choose to use one that’s labelled as sperm-friendly. Remember though, lubricant should never be used as a form of contraception. That just won’t work.
Sleep is one of life’s luxuries. Most of us need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night, some people may need more and some less. An occasional night without sleep will make you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it probably won’t harm your overall health. However, regular sleep disturbances can affect the production and release of reproductive hormones which may impact fertility. Try to stick to a consistent sleep routine, avoid bright phone or TV screens within one-to-two hours of going to bed. Take advantage now as when baby comes along a good night’s sleep may feel like a thing of dreams!