How healthy habits can help you conceive
Getting your body ready for trying for a baby needn’t be too complicated or stressful – for you it’s mostly to do with looking after yourself and preparing your body to create and carry new life. For your partner, it’s all about making sure his sperm are healthy enough to make it to their final destination!
Give your body an MOT
Before you start trying to get pregnant, it's a good idea to give yourself a bit of an MOT:
Smoking: Smoking will reduce your chances of actually conceiving, not to mention be potentially harmful to your baby's development and give you a higher risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancies. If you smoke, try and give up now. Your GP should be able to help you.
Diet and exercise: Being too over or under weight may affect your fertility. Exercise and a well balanced diet will also help you get your body in tip-top shape for trying for a baby.
You should cut back on processed foods and foods containing high levels of fat and sugar. But also, make sure you’re getting:
- plenty of fruit and vegetables- at least 5 portions a day and use a variety of colours
- plenty of starchy foods – these should make up about 1/3 of your diet and include things like bread, pasta, rice (preferably wholegrain which contains more folic acid), oats and potatoes
- protein with each meal - such as lean meat and chicken, fish (twice a week), dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds and pulses
Vitamin supplements: If you're having a balanced diet you probably don't need extra vitamins but if you are taking supplements, make sure they're suitable for women trying to conceive. Regular vitamin supplements often contain Vitamin A which could be harmful in too large a dose.
Folic acid: Folic acid is important as it helps prevent some developmental defects, such as spina bifida. Folic acid occurs in some foods, such as leafy green vegetables, bananas and fortified breakfast cereals, but it's difficult to get enough every day to match the 400 micrograms recommended for women planning and starting a family. That’s why it’s recommended you take a folic acid supplement during pregnancy. So if you’re not already taking it, it’s a good idea to start now and continue until your 12th week of pregnancy.
Medications: Some medicines can lower your fertility levels, so check with your doctor if you are taking any, and if you've been recently using an IUD, Depro-Provera or Norplant. If you've recently been taking the pill it may be a good idea to allow your body to adjust for a couple of months before you start trying to conceive but again, that's something to talk to your doctor about.
Stress: Our modern lifestyles can often be stressful and it'll help your chances of conception if you try to keep stress to a minimum – although it's often easier said than done!
Get your partner involved too!
Of course, how quickly you get pregnant isn't all down to you. Your partner has a very important role to play too! He should try to:
- Stop smoking and avoid any excessive intake of alcohol.
- Reduce caffeine intake too.
- Reduce his stress levels.
- Stay away from hazardous work environments: some chemicals can affect his sperm.
- Keep his testicles cool: make sure he's got some roomy, cotton underpants and ensure his trousers aren’t too tight.
- Encourage him to eat well: plenty of fruit and vegetables will provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C - essential for producing healthy sperm. Foods high in Zinc are good for virility so he should be including foods such as seafood, wholefoods, meat, eggs and rye bread in his diet. Lots of calcium rich dairy foods and iron rich red meat and pulses should also be on the menu.
Stay relaxed and enjoy the practice!
The best advice for any couple trying for a family is to relax and enjoy the practice! Mother Nature often doesn't want to feel rushed or pressurised.
It's a good idea to keep having a fun and loving sexual relationship all month – so you don't begin to only associate sex with making babies and pile the pressure on each other.