There are things you can do now before you try for a baby that will affect your fertility and the health of your pregnancy and baby.
1. Be ready for pregnancy
Around 1 in 3 women get pregnant within 1 month so be ready for pregnancy. Your health before pregnancy sets the foundation for the lifelong health of your baby. By following the advice below you can:
- protect your baby’s development and future health
- improve your fertility
- reduce your risk of complications in pregnancy.
Once you start trying for a baby (stopped contraception) you won't know you're pregnant for the first few weeks. So making healthy lifestyle changes sooner rather than later will give you peace of mind when you get a positive pregnancy test.
Things to stop doing
These are harmful to both fertility and baby:
Things to do
These will all improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby:
- Start taking folic acid now, it needs time to build up in your body
- Have a healthy balanced diet – it improves your fertility as well as affecting your baby’s future health
- Cut down on caffeine if you drink a lot (over 200mg a day)
- Try to get closer to a healthy weight if you are overweight.
- Be active – this has been shown to improve fertility and will make your pregnancy and baby healthier
- Have a cervical screening test if you haven’t had one in the last year
- Check that you have had the MMR vaccine because rubella is harmful to developing babies
- Get tested for STIs if you have a reason to believe there’s a possibility you may have one
2. Keep track of your menstrual cycle
Some women know to the day when their period will start, but many will not be sure after years taking hormonal contraception.
Make a note of your first day of your periods.Your full cycle begins on this day until the next day you start to bleed. This will give you a good indication of how long your cycle is and you can work out when you might be ovulating, which is when an egg will be released to be fertilised.
There are also apps available that can help you track your menstrual cycle and ovulation dates.
Give your body time to adjust
If you’ve stopped taking hormone contraceptives (the Pill) your periods may be a bit irregular for the first few months while your body adjusts to the change in hormone levels. See our advice on stopping contraception.
3. Don't stop taking medication without talking to your doctor
If you take medication for a physical or mental health condition, talk to your doctor or specialist about it before you start trying for a baby. Don't stop taking it as your symptoms could come back or get worse. Your doctor will talk to you about the safest treatment for pregnancy.
4. Try not to get anxious
Trying for a baby can be an anxious time for many reasons. Taking care of your mental wellbeing is important now and during pregnancy.
5. Know when to look for help with fertility
If you have not become pregnant within a year of regular unprotected sex (sex every 2-3 days), see your GP. If you have a condition like endometriosis or PCOS or if you are 36 or over, talk to your GP after 6 months. Find out more about infertility here.