No matter where you are in your preconception journey – you’re just starting to think about having a baby, or you’ve been trying for a while – these tips might help you get your body ready for pregnancy and create some healthier habits.
There’s no set time for how long it will take for each person to get pregnant. Did you know that around 80% or more women will fall pregnant within a year of trying? There are a number of factors that need to align in order for you to become pregnant. Being healthy is one of the easier things you and your partner can do to prepare for pregnancy.
Our 6 tips to help get your body ready for pregnancy:
1. If you’re ready to get pregnant now, stop hormonal birth control sooner rather than later
Non-hormonal types of contraception such as using condoms, a diaphragm, a copper IUD, or natural family planning (sometimes known as the rhythm method) don’t affect fertility levels. However, if you’re using a hormonal contraceptive like the pill, it can take a month or two for your natural menstrual cycle to get back to its normal rhythm after stopping. This doesn’t mean you can’t fall pregnant in that time, it just might be more difficult to know the pattern of your menstrual cycle to optimise your chance of getting pregnant.
If you’re unsure how your contraception may affect you, or when and how is best to stop, speak to your healthcare professional for advice.
2. Get to know and track your menstrual cycle
Whether you want to take a structured or more relaxed approach to trying for a baby, it can be helpful to know the patterns of your menstrual cycle. You’re most fertile 12-24 hours after ovulating (when your ovaries release an egg). This could happen, for example, on day 14-15 of an average 28-day cycle.
Having an idea of when you are likely to ovulate could help improve your chances of conceiving more quickly because you can take advantage of your fertile window. Bear in mind that not everyone has a 28-day menstrual cycle, and your fertile days can vary from month to month. Check out our ovulation calculator to help estimate your fertile window.
3. Consider a preconception checkup
Regardless of whether you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is a good idea to have a preconception checkup with your healthcare professional to discuss your health and plan for pregnancy.
There are many medical conditions that may require some extra care when planning to have a baby. If you have a pre-existing medical condition that may affect your fertility such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or you’re concerned about any irregularities in your cycle, ask your healthcare professional for advice before trying to get pregnant.
4. Eat healthy to prepare for pregnancy
It’s important to have the right nutrients, in the right quantities, even before you get pregnant. Find out about the best fertility diet here. Eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle before you get pregnant means your body is more prepared for pregnancy and birth. There are some simple food swaps you can do to help you make healthier choices which are easy to try. Here are some delicious and healthy recipe ideas for you to try.
Being a healthy weight (both you and your partner) may have a positive effect on your ability to conceive, and might help reduce your chances of your baby being under- or overweight at birth. Talk to your healthcare professional if you’re worried about your weight or lifestyle.
5. Do some moderate exercise every day
Being active will help get your body into good shape for pregnancy and labour. Doing some moderate exercise every day such as swimming, brisk walking, yoga or pilates will help you be healthy and be fitter for when you’re pregnant with your baby.
It’s worth noting that some women who do excessive amounts of exercise can face challenges with their fertility, such as irregular or missed periods, and may want to reduce their activity levels before trying to conceive. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about exercise.
6. Cut out unhealthy habits
Did you know your lifestyle habits are extremely important even before you get pregnant? You should also stop smoking, and drinking alcohol. The current recommendations in Australia are that it’s safest to not drink alcohol at all, both while you’re pregnant and when you’re trying to conceive. Drinking may cause potential harm to your unborn baby. Speak to your healthcare professional for more guidance around this.
If you love coffee, you might need to cut back to the recommended amount of caffeine. This is no more than 200mg of caffeine per day . That’s approximately 1 cup of espresso, 2-3 cups of instant coffee or 4 cups of tea. Caffeine has been associated with reduced fertility, a higher risk of miscarriage and low birth weight.
Getting Pregnant, healthdirect (accessed 8 July, 2022) https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/getting-pregnant Weight, fertility and pregnancy health, Better Health Channel (accessed 8 July, 2022) https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/weig…
Nutrition advice during pregnancy, Department of Health and Aged Care (accessed 8 July, 2022) https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/nutrition-advice-durin…
Caffeine, FSANZ (accessed 8 July, 2022) https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/Pages/Caffeine…