Pre-Conception Care: What You Need To Know

Planning a pregnancy can often feeling daunting and it’s perfectly understandable to start thinking about what you need to do to prepare for this big life changing event.

Whilst you are only fertile (able to get pregnant) for just a few days in each menstrual cycle after an egg is released from her ovary, it may not happen straight away – however, around 1 in 3 women get pregnant within a month, so it’s best to be prepared for pregnancy even before you stop contraception.

Your health before pregnancy can also affect the lifelong health of your baby.

These are a number of the things you can do before pregnancy to make your pregnancy and baby healthier – check out our tips below:

  • Cut out the smoking – partners too!

Smoking affects fertility in both men and women. By stopping smoking you will improve your chances of getting pregnant.

  • Start the right supplements

Take Folic acid – see here for more information:

Some women may be prescribed 5mg of folic acid – check with your GP if you need a higher dose.

It is also recommended that you take a daily vitamin D supplement.

Do not take cod liver oil or any supplements containing vitamin A (retinol) when you’re pregnant. Too much vitamin A could harm your baby.

Stick to pregnancy vitamins – but still always check the label to make sure they are safe to be taken in pregnancy.

  • Feed yourself well

Eating a healthy, varied diet before and during pregnancy will help you get most of the vitamins and minerals you need.

  • Kick the caffeine habit
  • Aim for a healthy weight

The ideal BMI before conception is between 18.5 and 24.9.

Being overweight

Having a high BMI (over 25) can reduce your fertility and increases the risk of complications in pregnancy. Being overweight can also contribute to fertility problems in men.

Being underweight

If your BMI is in the underweight range (18.5 or less) it may affect your fertility and cause health problems during pregnancy. It may help to put on weight gradually with a healthy diet. There are many reasons why a person may be underweight. You GP can give you help and advice.

  • Get active

The Department of Health recommends:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles

Regular, moderate exercise before and after you conceive will help your fertility as well as benefiting your pregnancy and baby in the long term.

  • Go alcohol free
  • Discuss with your doctor about pre-existing conditions, medications you are taking or previous pregnancy complications