Aiming to be in the great shape prior to conception is a good idea but this doesn’t mean striving to be perfect. If you are a woman, make sure your Pap smear screening is up to date and see your doctor or health professional for an “antenatal screen” - a series of tests including those that ensure you have immunity to - or no previous infection with - some important infectious diseases that can have a serious impact on pregnant women and their babies.
We recommend people optimise their weight prior to pregnancy but discourage women from rapid weight loss to get to an “acceptable” BMI. This just encourages unhealthy eating habits and yo-yo dieting with re-gain of all the weight lost in pregnancy and beyond.
Definitely give up smoking and stop using recreational drugs. There are reams of evidence showing the deleterious effects of smoking on fertility, pregnancy and children’s health and there are no recreational drugs that are acceptable in pregnancy. Limit caffeine to two cups a day.
Cut down on alcohol intake. We say there is no safe level of drinking during pregnancy.
Watch your stress levels and observe how you manage stress at work and in the rest of your life. Try to factor in ways to mitigate stress like mindfulness, yoga or meditation.
Watch your sleep patterns and try to ensure you get a good 7-9 hours per night.
For women who are taking regular medications, see your doctor about what is safe to continue and what might need to be changed. Certain medication such as some antihypertensive medication and anticonvulsant medication can be very dangerous in pregnancy.
Women planning to conceive should be taking Folic Acid 400mcg/day up to 5mg/day depending on their history, for the month prior to conception and the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. We generally recommend a pregnancy-specific multi vitamin, as general multivitamins can have the wrong balance of vitamins and minerals for pregnancy.
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