If you're considering getting pregnant soon, you might want to think about getting
your body baby-fit. Here's what women can do to get ready for pregnancy.
GET CHECKED OUT
Before trying to conceive, Dr Kelton Tremellen, deputy medical director at IVF clinic
Repromed and creator of the new men's fertility-boosting vitamin Menevit, suggests
going to your GP and making sure your general health is good. "Make sure your
Pap smear is up-to-date, and have a blood test to see if you're immune to rubella,"
If you're on any medication, discuss this with your GP - you may need to go off
it or try a new treatment before conceiving, as some types of medication can be
detrimental to your unborn baby. For details on what medications can be taken around
conception, most states have a hotline.
TAKE FOLIC ACID
Taking folic acid supplements and making sure that your diet contains foods rich
in folate can help prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, developing
in your unborn baby. Medical professionals suggest women take supplements, such
as Elevit, for at least a month before conceiving and then throughout the pregnancy.
"A woman trying to fall pregnant has to stop smoking," warns Dr Tremellen,
adding that there's a great deal of evidence that smoking decreases the chance of
conceiving. "In the IVF program, if a woman smokes more than 10 cigarettes
per day, the chance of her conceiving is about half compared to a non-smoking woman,"
he says. He recommends that a woman quits smoking all together or, at the very least,
cuts down to well below 10.
Dr Tremellen says alcohol is another big no-no if you're trying to conceive. While
many women may think it's okay to have a drink or two during this time, he says
there is no safe minimal amount you can drink. "A Danish study found that even
one glass a day increases the time it takes to conceive," he says.
KNOW YOUR BODY
To increase your chances of conceiving it's a good idea to learn how to recognise
the signs that you're ovulating. Noticing changes in your mucus is a good way to
pick when you're most fertile (it will be thinner and more slippery during this
time). You can speak with your GP or get more information from a natural family
planning clinic to help you identify your fertile times.
WATCH YOUR WEIGHT
Dr Tremellen says it's vital that women planning to fall pregnant maintain a healthy
weight. "If a woman's underweight, she's less likely to ovulate. If she's overweight,
she's less likely to ovulate. She should aim for a normal BMI [body mass index - work it out by dividing your weight in kilos by your height in metres squared] between
20 and 25," he says, adding that the miscarriage rate also goes up if you put
on too much weight.
Now is the time for moderate, not excessive, exercise. A recent study found that
three or less hours of physical exercise a week doesn't affect IVF outcomes. However,
four or more hours of exercise weekly resulted in an increase in pregnancy loss
and a reduction in live birth rate.
There's no magic diet guaranteed to make you super-fertile but it's worth eating
a healthy range of foods - including fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats - in
preparation for pregnancy. Make sure your diet includes foods that are a good source
of folate, such as green leafy vegetables. It's also a good idea to cut back on
the cappuccinos: studies have shown that a high coffee intake can stop a fertilised
egg from implanting, meaning that you can have a miscarriage and not even know it.
STAY CLEAR OF NASTIES
Diseases such as toxoplasmosis are relatively harmless to adults but can be dangerous
to a developing baby. Toxoplasmosis is most often transmitted through cat poo or
undercooked meat, so while trying to conceive, put your partner in charge of emptying
the cat litter tray and make sure you wash your hands well after handling raw or
While it's obvious you need to stop taking the Pill before trying to get pregnant,
you don't have to quit it months in advance. "The Pill doesn't have a negative
effect on fertility," explains Dr Tremellen, adding that today's Pill comes
in such a low dose that as soon as you come off it you're fertile within the following
In fact, in some ways the Pill can actually boost fertility. "It can help protect
women against endometriosis and ovarian cysts, which can interfere with fertility,"
says Dr Tremellen.
On the other hand, other forms of contraception, such as the Depo-Provera injection,
do linger in your system - speak to your doctor if this relates to you.