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Pre-pregnancy preparation checklist: Ensuring a healthy start to your journey towards conception

Preparing for pregnancy allows you and your partner to optimise your health and improve fertility, minimise potential risks, and increase the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy. Here are some key things you can do before getting pregnant:

1. Monitor your menstrual cycle

Tracking your menstrual cycle is important to help you determine the optimal timing for conception. Keep a record of when your period begins and ends. Note any symptoms you experience during your menstruation, such as cramping, headache, breast tenderness, and even mood swings. It is also helpful to learn the signs of ovulation, such as clear cervical mucus, breast tenderness, and an increase in basal body temperature.

2. Schedule a preconception check-up

One of the crucial first steps is to visit your GP for a preconception health check-up. During this visit, your Doctor will review your medical history, run some tests, such as antenatal blood tests, complete blood count, and cervical screening test, as well as address any concerns and provide guidance.

3. Understand your family’s genetic history

If you, your partner, or close relatives have a history of birth defects or inherited medical conditions, there may be an increased chance of having a baby with similar challenges. Inform your healthcare provider about your family’s genetic history, as they may recommend a consultation with a genetic specialist. Meeting with a genetic specialist allows you to discuss screening options, potential risks, and prenatal diagnoses and interventions.

4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

To increase your chances of conception, it’s important to make certain lifestyle changes that can help improve your fertility. Here are some tips that you and your partner should consider:

  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet: Consuming healthy foods is essential for your overall health, especially during pregnancy. Staying hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water each day is also important.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can damage the DNA in eggs and sperm, making it more difficult to conceive. Quitting smoking can greatly improve your fertility.
  • Avoid body-building steroids: Anabolic steroid use, including testosterone, can suppress sperm production. Additionally, recreational drug use should be avoided, as it can negatively impact natural fertility.
  • Moderate alcohol consumption: If you and your partner are trying to conceive, it is advisable to adhere to safe drinking guidelines, limiting alcohol intake to no more than 2 standard drinks per day. Once pregnancy is achieved, abstain from alcohol completely as there is no known safe amount during pregnancy.
  • Take folic acid: Folic acid plays a crucial role in fetal health and development and can help reduce the risk of birth defects like cleft lip, cleft palate, and spina bifida. It is recommended to start taking folic acid at least one month before conception. Consult your GP for further advice on pre-pregnancy supplements.
  • Get regular exercise: Staying physically active while trying to conceive offers numerous benefits. Exercise helps maintain an optimal weight, reduces stress, and promotes overall well-being throughout pregnancy. It is recommended to engage in at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least three times a week.
  • Eat healthy foods: Eating healthy, iron rich foods are proven to help with fertility. If you need help, we recommend you reach out to a Dietician or Naturopath to help you develop a pre-pregnancy food plan.

5. Plan your budget

Starting a family comes with financial responsibilities, it’s important to assess your financial situation. Some of the things to keep in mind when planning your budget include fertility appointment cost, prenatal services cost, child care services, your insurance coverage, and financial aid options.

If you have been trying to conceive naturally for over 12 months and are under the age of 35, or for 6 months and are over the age of 35 and have not fallen pregnant, it might be time to consider speaking with a fertility specialist. If you would like to get more information about your initial fertility consultation or book an appointment at our fertility clinic in Sydney, our team here at Fertility First would be happy to accommodate.