Your chances of getting pregnant are influenced by a number of manageable factors like your diet, weight, smoking and exercise. You may need to make some adjustments to your usual habits for the best chance of conceiving.
These 13 lifestyle tips will help set you and your partner up for starting a family.
1. Get your nutritional needs right
Eat a well-balanced diet, full of fresh fruit and vegetables, good quality protein, wholegrains, low fat dairy products and plenty of water. Good maternal nutrition will help give your baby the best start in life.
Try to avoid substances that can cause problems with conception and in pregnancy, such as alcohol, recreational drugs, foods that may contain Listeria (such as soft cheeses, cold meats, pre-prepared salads and raw eggs) and fish containing high levels of mercury. It’s also advisable to minimise your daily caffeine intake. Find out more on our planning nutrition page.
Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of variety, full of fresh fruit and vegetables. Good maternal nutrition will help give your baby the best start in life
2. Take a pregnancy supplement when planning your pregnancy
Pregnancy is one of the most nutritionally demanding periods in a woman’s life, and the importance of good maternal nutrition for both mother and baby’s health is widely recognised.
During pregnancy, the need for some key nutrients is increased. Despite the best intentions, meeting these additional nutritional needs can be difficult through diet alone. Taking a pregnancy multivitamin and mineral supplement, such as
Elevit with Iodine, can help build up the essential nutrients required and help cover the needs of both mother and baby.
The first weeks of pregnancy are when your baby’s vital organs begin to form and this is the time you may not even know you are pregnant, so it’s important to start taking a pregnancy supplement daily from at least 1 month before you try to fall pregnant.
Men can also take a supplement, such as Menevit, to help support sperm health.
3. Stay healthy and practice good food hygiene
Reduce your chances of picking up a food-borne infection by handling food correctly. Keep all your kitchen utensils and surfaces clean, wash hands and fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly, cook your food right through and store everything at the right temperature.
4. Exercise regularly
Keeping active reduces the risk of some chronic health problems and improves your general wellbeing.
The Ministry of Health Activity Guidelines for New Zealanders set out the minimum amount of physical activity you should try to do, in order to stay healthy. Be active every day, in as many ways as possible. Aim for at least 2 ½ hours of moderate (or 1 ¼ hours of vigorous physical activity) spread throughout the week. More information click here.
Don’t overdo it though. Too much exercise can affect your hormones and that can make it harder to conceive.
5. Manage your weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential when trying to conceive. Your chances of getting pregnant are reduced if you’re carrying too much or too little weight, due mainly to hormone disruption.
To work out your ideal weight for your size, you need to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). You can do this by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared, or use a simple online BMI calculator.
The ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.99. If you need to lose or gain weight to be in the healthy range, talk to your doctor about how best to go about it.
Reducing stress levels can increase your chances of getting pregnant
6. Stop smoking
Smoking causes a number of health problems and can affect fertility in both men and women. If you or your partner smokes, planning for a baby is a great reason for both of you to quit.
If you need advice and support with quitting, speak to your healthcare professional.
7. Reduce stress
The pace of modern living and the effort of trying for a baby can leave you feeling tired and stressed. Reducing your stress levels, with relaxation techniques for example, can help increase your chances of getting pregnant. Activities like yoga, tai chi or meditation may be helpful.
8. Avoid too much heat
Avoid the excessive heat of a sauna or spa bath when you’re trying to conceive. Men can also improve sperm health and count by keeping cool.
9. Don’t handle the cat’s litter
Used cat litter may carry bacteria that can be harmful, so it’s best to wear rubber gloves when you clean out the litter tray, or ask someone else to do it. Wear gloves when you’re gardening for the same reason.
10. Take a look at your finances
Getting you and your partner financially ready for the journey ahead is essential. Ensure that you are both financially stable and have planned for the additional expenses that come with starting a family.
11. Ask about your family history
If you’re able to, it’s important to find out about your family history when planning a pregnancy. It can also play a part in shaping you and your baby’s life. You may need to discuss any family health matters with your healthcare professional before you start trying for a baby to determine if any factors may affect your pregnancy or your baby’s development.
12. Talk to family and friends
If you feel comfortable doing so, it’s also a good idea to talk to close family and friends about wanting to start a family. This may help you and your partner better understand what’s involved and the things you need to prepare for. It can provide both of you with an important support network too.
13. Are you ready for the journey ahead?
While the prospects of starting a family are exciting, it’s good to stop and talk to your partner before getting too carried away. Check that your partner is on the same page and you are both emotionally ready to start a family.
We’ve prepared a comprehensive list of the things to do before you try for a baby. Read and print out our handy preconception checklist to help you prepare for a healthy pregnancy.