Today we know a lot more about the importance of pre-conception
care, and are aware that careful planning can have a positive
impact on the health of the couple and the baby, both while in the
womb and throughout life.
Pre-conception care is not solely an issue for the gals. Did you
know, for example, that it takes three months for sperm to develop
so that they are capable of fertilising an egg? Pre-conception care
for men can improve the viability and functionality of their sperm
as well as provide a general sense of wellbeing, so we advise both
partners to be prepared.
Ideally, pre-conception care starts four to six months before
the planned time of conception (obviously for many it starts with
"going off the pill"). If you aren't able to work with time-span
then try for at least one month so that you can build up adequate
stores of folic acid and other vital
There are many theories and recommendations to help
get pregnant, but common to most of the research are three
To make these points even clearer, we have come up with 16
points on how to get pregnant. For some, these will be a challenge,
so start small and keep progressing.
Remember that the day before ovulation is the
most important day for intercourse to ensure the freshness of
both sperm and egg. If you are unsure of when you ovulate, use an
ovulation kit or read
up about understanding your cycle.
It seems highly likely that smoking lowers a man's sperm count;
it may lead to sperm abnormalities (sperm count and motility) and
may be a factor in impotence. Even more notably, smoking has severe
effects on female fertility, such as ovulation, and well-documented
effects on embryonic development in pregnant women, for example,
low birth-weight infants. Smoking also lowers the body's total
vitamin C. Vitamin C can potentially reduce some of the
side-effects from smoking such as poor eyesight and 'ageing' of our
Most government agencies recommend that you avoid drinking
entirely when planning for pregnancy so that if you were to become
pregnant without knowing, alcohol won't affect the baby. Recent
research has also suggested that fathers who drink heavily during
the month prior to conception have babies that on average weigh 6.5
ounces less than other babies (cited in Telles, 2004).
Caffeine significantly increases your chances of miscarriage as
well as potentially lowering fertility in both men and women.
Try to limit your exposure to toxins such as cigarette smoke,
alcohol, artificial sweeteners and recreational drugs. Chemicals
such as solvents, pesticides and many household products should
also be avoided.
The risk of pesticides is dose-related: the greater your
exposure, the greater the likelihood that you will have a reaction.
The effect on our health of pesticide residue in our food is not
yet clearly documented. Obviously, a way to avoid pesticides is to
buy organic produce and meats. 'Organic-certified produce' requires
that the food was grown, harvested, stored and transported without
the use of synthetic chemicals, irradiation or fumigants. Not only
is there an ever-increasing number of organic outlets but many
supermarket chains now retail their own organic brands.
If you are on medications, review them with you medical
practitioner. Check your medicine cabinet at home for drugs that
may affect fertility and pregnancy. For men this may include
Tagamet for heartburn and Azulfidine for rheumatoid arthritis.
Women may need to review antibiotics and painkillers and - under
the guidance of a pharmacist or healthcare professional - swap to a
more appropriate medication.
The importance of healthy body weight for women who want to get
pregnant has been well documented. The sex hormones produced by men
and women are closely linked to weight. It appears that an extra
10% to 14% of body fat can reduce a woman's chances of conception.
(Mayo Clinic, 2001). Obesity in women is a high risk issue in
conception and pregnancy; for example, overweight women are more
likely to have miscarriages. Likewise, underweight women have a
higher risk of premature labour and anaemia.
Testicles are generally 2°C cooler than the rest of the male
body; sperm functions best at 94-96 degrees. So guys, it's best to
avoid spas and saunas and opt for boxer shorts, a sexier look. The
popular myth about tight jeans and male fertility is just as said -
Relaxation can play an integral role when wanting to get
pregnant, with evidence that those with reduced stress or improved
ability to handle stress may have better rates of conception.
Further, this has a positive effect on the foetus. Even mild stress
can interfere with a man's testosterone production and can lower
sperm count (Telles, 2004). This evidence may shed some light on
why many couples with fertility issues found that after IVF or adopting they fell pregnant without
assistance. Given the elusive nature of stress, it remains a
difficult subject to substantiate; however, there's no doubt that
lifestyle changes that enhance positive feelings are of
Moderate and regular exercise is important in any healthy
lifestyle. Going for a brisk walk, exercising at the gym or playing
sport all contribute to general health and wellbeing and ultimately
improve chances of getting pregnant
by lowering the risks of diseases thought to be caused by
inactivity and overweight.
But… over-exercising is not advisable for women as this can
adversely affect hormone balance and impair ovulation (due to the
lack of body fat). Further, in the event of conception, excessive
exercise can impair placental and foetal growth, as well as
potentially overheat the foetus. Exercise considered 'excessive'
would be running the equivalent of 16 kilometres a week.
Studies have shown that a nutritious diet with adequate protein
and complex carbohydrates, nutrient-dense foods, foods with healthy
fats over unhealthy fats and one that is high in fresh fruit and
vegetables provides a solid nutritional basis for health and
conception. A good pre-conception care diet is one that is high in
vitamin C, zinc and folic acid (particularly for women); for
example, red capsicum, coloured berries and guava are all very rich
in vitamin C; nuts and seeds are high in zinc; and grains are good
sources of folic acid (although supplementation is commonly
recommended for B9).
Restrictive diets have been shown to have a negative effect on a
women's hormonal levels (such as progesterone) and consequently
affect couples trying to get pregnant, so avoid heavy dieting.
Both men and women should avoid over-eating sugar, especially
added sugars, as this can interfere with hormone levels via our
Every cell in our body contains water. Water is the fluid in
which all life-processes occur in the body. The bodily functions
our body fluids perform include: transporting nutrients and waste
throughout the body; forming much of the structure of large
molecules; and providing suspension by acting as a shock-absorber
inside the eyes, spinal cord and the amniotic sac surrounding the
foetus in the womb. Furthermore, many chemical reactions occur in
fluid; water acts as the solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino
acids, glucose and a huge range of other small molecules; it is
also important in lubricating and cushioning joints, assisting in
the regulation of body temperature and maintaining blood
Drink quality water throughout the day. If your urine is
coloured, has a strong odour and you urinate infrequently, you are
likely to be dehydrated. Fluid intake is particularly important in
hotter weather, when exercising, and during pregnancy and
Studies have shown that taking supplements of dietary folic acid
before pregnancy and during the first trimester significantly
lowers the risk of neural tube defects. Talk to your pharmacist or
healthcare professional about the right supplement for you.
Particularly important if you are considered to be in a
high-risk category. Women in a high-risk category, such as those
with an illness, history of miscarriage, anxiety etc., should
consider supplementation under the guidance of a qualified
healthcare professional; this may also be wise for many men.
As mentioned, it's important to start taking B9 and also
consider a multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains zinc,
iron, vitamin C, B group vitamins and vitamin E. Remember, though,
that supplements are not a substitute for a good diet but rather a
safeguard. Also, research indicates that the benefits of these
nutrients is greatest in our foods rather than when taken as a
Note that women wanting to get pregnant should not take vitamins
A and D without supervision because they can potentially be
Especially cats, regarding toxoplasmosis and potential effects
on the unborn child.
Other pre-conception care
considerations include testing for rubella immunity, diabetes,
blood pressure and a full blood count (ensuring iron status is
adequate). Having a dental check-up is also recommended so that any
treatment can be done before pregnancy.
This information has been provided by Leanne Cooper from
Cadence Health. Leanne is a qualified nutritionist and mother of
two very active boys. Thank you to Christian McErvale for his
This information should not replace the expertise of
qualified health professionals. Always check for relevant
credentials when sourcing fitness and health
Your biological alarm clock has gone off, you're tracking your
menstrual cycle, maybe you've had a preliminary checkup with your
doctor. (You might even be secretly buying baby magazines!)
We've scoured the latest research and fertility advice to
compile this big list of 'getting pregnant tips' to help you
Getting pregnant is all about
timing. Having sex as close as possible to the moment of ovulation
(when an egg is released from your ovaries) is the best time to get
pregnant and will give you the best chance of a successful
For a healthy, fertile couple where both partners are under the
age of 35, the chance of getting pregnant straight away is
actually pretty low - it's estimated at around 25 percent per
month, if you have regular unprotected sex around the time of ovulation.