Are you ready to conceive?

Follow these simple steps to make sure that your body is in the best condition for conception. If you have stopped using contraception you could be pregnant at any time.

Conception - things to do

  • Take a 400mcg folic acid supplement every day.
  • Avoid alcohol and ask your partner to cut down too.
  • Stop smoking and ask your partner to give up or cut down as well.
  • Start exercising, if you don't already. Exercise during pregnancy will help blood and oxygen flow to your baby, which is great for growth and development.
  • If you are overweight or obese now is the time to see if you can lose some weight with a healthy diet and exercise. Obesity increases the risk of pregnancy problems.

It may be tempting to live it up a little before the hard work of pregnancy, but getting yourself into shape beforehand will improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby.

It's worth bearing in mind, too, that you won't know you're pregnant for the first few weeks, so if you're trying for a baby, think about making lifestyle changes sooner rather than later.

Diet and nutrition

While you are trying to conceive, you might need to make some changes to your diet and eating habits.

A healthy diet will not only improve your chances of conceiving but also help your body prepare for the demands of pregnancy.

It's not just cutting out the junk. There are some important things you need to know about which foods are good for you and your baby, and which foods you should avoid altogether.

If you are overweight or underweight it can affect your fertility. You should try to achieve a healthy weight before trying to conceive. Aim to follow a healthy, balanced eating plan.

If you have any concerns about your weight you should talk to your GP, who can advise you about your specific needs.

Find out more about how your weight affects fertility in our Conception FAQs.

See our diet and nutrition in pregnancy page for more information.

Exercise and conception

Being fit and healthy is an advantage if you're thinking about starting or adding to your family.

Pregnancy puts a lot of strain on the body. You will find it easier to cope with if you have the correct balance of muscular strength and flexibility.

Being in good shape can also help you conceive in the first place. The body works more efficiently when you are fit, and having a toned body usually makes you feel more confident about yourself.

How active should you be?

The government recommends that everyone does 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. You don't need to go to the gym, even fast walking is enough.

If you haven’t done much regular exercise before start with 15 minutes of continuous exercise three times a week.

Then you can increase that bit by bit to 30-minute sessions four times a week and then to daily exercise. Whatever exercise you choose, it should be enough to increase your heart and breathing rates, but you should still be able to have a conversation.

You can continue to exercise while pregnant. Just listen to your body and don't overdo things.

Find out more about the benefits of exercise for conception

Smoking when you're trying to get pregnant

  • If you continue to smoke while trying for a baby you can harm your chances of conceiving.
  • Smoking can damage men’s sperm and lower the number and quality of their sperm.
  • Smoking affects the lining of the womb and causes problems with implantation, increasing the risk of miscarriage.
  • Smoking causes women to suffer from premature ovarian ageing – women who smoke have an earlier menopause by up to four years.
  • Smokers require twice the number of IVF cycles to help them conceive than non-smokers.

Smoking during pregnancy has serious effects on mother and baby.

Quitting now will make a big difference to your health before and during your pregnancy and once the baby is born.

The NHS, your GP or midwife can all help you give up and will put you in touch with experts who can advise you.

Find out why and how you should give up smoking

Alcohol and conception

You don’t have to stop having fun now that you’re trying for a baby, but there are a few things you should give up or cut down on, and alcohol is one of them.

The safest level of alcohol to drink during pregnancy is inconclusive. Therefore, the safest option is to avoid alcohol whilst trying to conceive.

If you do choose to drink though, limit yourself to one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week. For more information, including how to get help cutting down on alcohol, see our alcohol and pregnancy page.

When conceiving you should also be aware of the following:

Caffeine

Coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks and soft drinks all contain caffeine. There's research to show that high levels of caffeine in pregnancy can lead to low birth weight and in some cases, miscarriage. You should limit your intake to 200mg a day (about two cups of instant coffee).

Try our caffeine calculator

Herbal medicines and teas

Don’t assume all herbal products are safe to take during pregnancy. Regular fruit teas from the supermarket are fine but double check with a qualified herbalist if you want to take a different herbal product.

Over-the-counter medicines

Many common medicines such as cough and cold remedies are not safe to take in pregnancy. If the packaging is not clear, then check with the pharmacist or your GP.

Prescription drugs

Don’t suddenly stop taking prescribed medicines. Make an appointment to see your doctor to discuss whether the drugs you are taking are safe to take when trying for a baby or during pregnancy.

Recreational and illegal drugs

When trying for a baby, you should give up illegal drugs completely. Drugs such as cannabis can affect your fertility.

See our Drugs FAQ for more information

If stopping or cutting down on drugs is likely to be difficult for you or your partner, consider getting some help.

See our Conception FAQs for answers to common questions about diet, exercise and conception

Sources

  1. NICE (2008) Antenatal care: routine care for healthy pregnant women, London National Institute for Health and Care Excellence,  , 2008
  2. RCOG (2006) Exercise in pregnancy, Statement number 4, London Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2006

 

Hide details

Last reviewed on June 13th, 2017. Next review date June 13th, 2020.

Was this information useful?

Yes No

Comments

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 4 Oct 2017 - 03:46

    myself and my husband being try for baby for about 7mouths now and we just want to no if we are doing it at the right time

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Oct 2017 - 11:36

    Hi, Thankyou for your comment.

    It can be normal for it to take a few months to conceive when you have just started trying, this doesn't mean that there is anything wrong, it can just take some time. If you have a regular cycle and your periods are regular then on average a women would ovulate around day 14 of this cycle, so 14 days after the first day of your last period. If you want to work out these dates, we do have an ovulation calculator on the Tommy's website, where you can put the date of your period in and then it will tell you when you should be ovulating. Having sex around this time can optimise your success of conception, but also having unprotected sex throughout your cycle can help as well. If you are still not getting pregnant then then next step would be to see the GP who may refer you to a specialist for help and advice, this is nothing to be concerned about, it is just what we recommend after months of trying for a baby. Hope this helps, Tommy's Midwives x

Add new comment