PREPARING FOR PREGNANCY
Attempting to get pregnant should be a happy time. It is also important that you are in good health. Most women feel that they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle once they are pregnant. Although it is important that you look after your health while carrying a baby, it is equally important to look after your (and your partner's) health even before trying to conceive.
It is ideal if you start preparing about three months before you plan to conceive. A healthy body encourages a healthy conception - so look after yourselves for a healthy conception, healthy pregnancy, healthy baby and a happy and healthy you!
Understand that age is an important factor:
It is a biological fact that fertility decreases with age. The decreased odds of getting pregnant are due to normal changes that occur with aging. Women are born with a limited number of eggs. Since no new ones are formed throughout a woman’s life, the number of eggs steadily declines over time. As women age the quality of their eggs declines as well. This doesn’t mean that you should run out and get pregnant, or resolve to never have kids. But you should understand the facts. Bottom line: every woman’s body ages at a different rate and there is no way of knowing for sure what your fertility will be like, say 10 years from now.
Controlling stress will certainly improve how you feel. Research between Concept Fertility Centre and the University of Western Australia has shown that stress can have a negative effect on fertility. The counsellor at Concept can assist in developing a stress control program for you.
A sensible diet:
Try to enjoy a healthy balanced diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetables and cereals. If you 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. Doctors recommend Folic Acid supplement of 0.4 mg or 400 micrograms per day before pregnancy and during the first few months of pregnancy.
Folic acid can help protect your unborn baby against birth defects of the spine and brain.
Limit it. The primary cause of preventable mental retardation is alcohol.
Limit it. 3-8 oz cups of coffee a day can double a nonsmoker’s risk of miscarriage in the first trimester according to N. England J Med 343: 839-45, 2000
Regular and moderate exercise is important to maintain general health and well being. Generally, you can continue with your normal exercise while you are trying to conceive and during early pregnancy.
Cigarette smoking has been shown to affect the quality of sperm and eggs, and is toxic to developing embryos. If you smoke, we recommend that you cut down as much as possible, and ideally, stop.
Ideal Body Weight:
Underweight: This may affect the release of LH and FSH (the gonadotropins). LH and FSH are important for the development of eggs in the ovaries and sperm in the testes. Your response to weight and weight change is unique, so please discuss your condition with your physician and/or with a dietitian.
Overweight: Obesity may affect the hormonal signals to the ovaries or testes. Crash or fad diets resulting in sudden or extreme weight loss also affect fertility, so please consult with your doctor and/or nutritionist for the best approach to your particular situation. Metabolic cases of obesity may need to be ruled out.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs):
Everyone knows that if you don’t practice safe sex, you might get pregnant. However, most people don’t know that if you aren’t using condoms now and you become infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you may never get pregnant in the future. STIs, transmitted form person to person through intimate sexual contact, infect one in three sexually active people by age 24. Common STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, genital wars, herpes simplex virus (genital herpes), Hepatitis C & B, trichomoniasis, scabies, and pubic lice.
STIs are a leading cause of infertility because they often display few, if any visible symptoms. Because women and men are frequently unaware that they have an STI, they fail to seek proper treatment and this threatens their fertility. Salpingitis is commonly caused by STI and in some cases for men, lower their sperm count and increase the sperm antibody.
Remember, when trying to fall pregnant, get help if you need it. Your doctor will help you. If, after a year of trying (or 6 months if you are over 35), you haven’t fallen pregnant, you should seek advice from a gynaecologist specializing in fertility. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) factors of infertility can be divided into: male factors (40%); female factors (40%) and combination of male and female factors, including unknown factors (20%). Thus, it is important that both husband and wife to undergo investigations.