Spring time is traditionally a time for making big plans for the future and for some couples top of their list will be starting a family.
For anyone who has decided to try for a baby this year, the advice is to make sure that you and your partner are fit and healthy before conception.
So, what can you do to achieve this? We asked Dr Penelope Law, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital, what advice she would give to a couple hoping for a baby this year.
Start your pregnancy at a healthy weight
We know that women who are overweight may have difficulty in conceiving, as they are more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles and even polycystic ovaries. In order to optimise your fertility you should try to keep your BMI <30 (i.e. 77kg at 1.6m) before becoming pregnant. This may require some reduction in the carbohydrate component of your diet (less bread, pasta, rice, cakes) and an increase in the amount of vegetables/meat and fish that you eat.
You will surprisingly feel less hungry as your blood sugar levels will be more stable.
Also you should try and do some form of exercise 2-3 times per week. This means activity that makes your heart beat faster (>100/min) and also means that you are out of breath! Try playing tennis/badminton with your partner for 1 session per week, even brisk walking helps. It is really a question of eating less and moving more.
All women who want to become pregnant should take a multivitamin which includes folic acid and vitamin D.
Try to limit alcohol to 1-2 units per day (1 small glass of wine) or preferably less, as there is some evidence that more than this can affect cognitive function in some children. Please don’t become too anxious if you find out you are pregnant and have had more alcohol than this, as most women do not realise they are pregnant until after six weeks.
Smoking affects the quality of the sperm and their ability to move towards the egg. It also affects the transition of the egg along the fallopian tube if the potential mother smokes. Pregnancy is more likely to occur for couples who don’t smoke or drink alcohol frequently.
See your doctor if you have any medical condition or take any prescribed drugs so that you can make sure that no adjustment to your existing treatment is needed.
Look forward to being pregnant
Having a baby is a truly wonderful life event. Make sure you both take time out from busy careers to relax and enjoy this early stage of planning your family.