It makes sense that you need to be happy and healthy if you are trying to get pregnant. Experts in fertility management say that you should aim to be in peak health for a good four months before conceiving. Here are some guidelines for keeping yourself in shape for pregnancy.
The role of stress and psychological barriers is variously played up and down according to whom you speak. We now have good evidence that stress does not cause miscarriage, but reducing it will certainly improve how you feel in the meantime. And, it is always a good idea to reduce the stress in your life.
Maintain a sensible diet
Try to have a healthy balanced diet, with plenty of fruits, vegetables and cereals. If you decide to supplement your diet with multivitamins, make sure that they are safe to take in early pregnancy and that they do not exceed the recommended daily limits. Check with your pharmacist if you are unsure. We do recommend that you take folic acid to minimise the risk of spina bifida (a birth defect). You should take at least 500 micrograms a day from the time you start trying to get pregnant until you are at least three months pregnant.
Some infections that could affect pregnancy can be present in foods (eg. Listeria and Salmonella). Some precautions that you can take are to:
- ensure that all meat, eggs and fish are well cooked, and avoid pate and products containing raw eggs (e.g. mayonnaise) unless pasteurised;
- ensure milk and soft cheeses are pasteurised;
- wash fruit and salad vegetables before you eat them; and
- make sure re-heated foods are heated through properly.
- Toxoplasmosis is an infection that can be carried by cats or in the soil. Wear gloves when gardening or, if you have cats, when emptying their litter tray. Wash your hands thoroughly before eating if you have been handling a cat. (If you are pregnant it is better to read books about cats rather than to handle them excessively!)
- Make sure you are immune to German Measles (Rubella) and chicken pox before you get pregnant.
It is a good idea to have a regular exercise regimen to maintain general health and well-being. In particular, exercises that strengthen the back, buttocks, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles are recommended.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking has been shown to affect the quality of sperm and eggs, and is poisonous to very early embryos. While this might not be critical when reproduction is normal, it can certainly be an important cause of harm when embryos are stressed, as in IVF procedures, and during pregnancy. We strongly recommend that you stop smoking altogether, or failing that, don’t smoke during your treatment or pregnancy.
- Caffeine: Caffeine is found in tea, coffee and cola. There are a few studies that suggest that caffeine can have an adverse effect on fertility, so you should moderate your intake.
- Social drugs: Social drugs should not be taken at all in pregnancy.
- Medications: Paracetamol (e.g. Panadol) in the usual doses is safe to take for pain while pregnant. If you are taking any medication tell your doctor that you are planning a pregnancy and that you want his or her advice on the safety of your current medications for both you and the baby. If in doubt about anything, check with your doctor or pharmacist. Most vaccinations are safe, but others (such as Rubella) need to be given well before you conceive.
- Herbs: Safety data, during infertility treatment, pregnancy and lactation are still largely lacking for many herbal medications, and recommendations for usage and dosage vary. Talk to your doctor and herbalist about the specific safety of particular preparations in pregnancy. Preparations suspected of being harmful include St John’s Wort and Composite Root Extract (and of course herbal medications used to promote uterine contractions).
For more information visit https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/pregnancy
Phone: 1300 354 354