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.
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Fertility: assessment for people with fertility problems, London NICE, 2013
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Routine antenatal care for healthy pregnant women, clinical guideline 62, London NICE, 2008
- Judith Stephenson, Nicola Heslehurst et al (2018) Before the beginning: nutrition and lifestyle in the preconception period and its importance for future health The Lancet, Vol. 391, No. 10132 Published: April 16, 2018
- Gnoth et al. (2003) Time to pregnancy: result of the German prospective study and impact on the management of infertility. Human Reproduction
Amanda, 26, and husband Judd, 29, from Essex, adopted a healthier lifestyle when planning to have a baby. They now have a daughter called Shelbie.
Hayley, 27, and Sam, 28, a barista from Lincolnshire knew their health conditions would make conception a challenge. But they didn’t give up. Following fertility treatment, they now have a daughter, Amaryllis. This is their story.
Claire Gale, 30, and husband Mark, 32, from Bournemouth always wanted a family. Last year and 8 weeks into her pregnancy, Claire miscarried, but she trusted her body to tell her when it was time to try again for a baby.
Lauren, 33, from Essex, and her husband Victor, 33, struggled to conceive and endured a miscarriage and pre-eclampsia before they had their beautiful daughter Cherry.
ℹLast reviewed on June 13th, 2017. Next review date June 13th, 2020.
By Anita (not verified) on 19 Jun 2019 - 09:26
Thanks for this informative article, I actually didn't know that weight can affect one's fertility. Thank you.
By Khan (not verified) on 7 Mar 2019 - 18:22
I married since 4 months ago.i regularly goes for intercourse but until yet to now the pregnancy is not adopted. The more of the sperm came back out with a very bad smell. What should i to do?
By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Mar 2019 - 11:27
Please be reassured that it is very normal for it to take up to a year to conceive if you are having regular intercourse. If you are concern about a bad smell, then do have a talk with your GP or family planning clinic for any screening for infections or other concerns.
By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Feb 2018 - 03:28