THERE’S a lot involved in having a baby, but you might not realise that preparation starts well before you’re pregnant
Hannah Pearn, a fertility specialist who runs clinics in South London, says women should be planning up to one year before conceiving.
Women should be making changes up to a year before considering falling pregnant Hannah Pearn is a fertility specialist who runs clinics in South London
Here, Hannah tells Fabulous exactly what you should be doing one year, six months and one month before falling pregnant.
Plus, the first things you should do when you find out you’re expecting.
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“For some people, it can take up to a year for a good, fertile menstrual cycle to be re-established,” Hannah says.
This is especially important if you went on contraception for cycle issues in the first place, including painful periods and irregular periods.
Vaginal Health tests
Hannah says: “Make sure you’re up to date with your smear test and test for any sexually transmitted infections which will need to be addressed.”
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These could impact your ability to conceive and cause complications when you do get pregnant, she explains.
Evaluate your general health
Before you think bout getting pregnant, it’s important to check if any medications you’re taking are safe during pregnancy and give yourself time to switch if needed.
Hannah says you should also stop smoking, drug taking and reduce your alcohol intake.
“Up to 50% of fertility issues are due to male factors so the sooner you get a proper investigation the sooner you can address any problems,” Hannah says.
She also noted that it takes about 3-6 months to see improvements in sperm health.
“So give yourself time to make improvements,” she says.
Track your cycle
According to Hannah, monitoring and learning about your cycle is one of the best ways to optimise your fertility.
“Learn when your fertile time is,” she says.
You can do this by learning how to spot your cervical mucus, she explains.
She adds: “Address any cycle issues you’ve identified, including painful periods, heavy periods, or irregular cycles, which could impact your ability to conceive.”
Good nutrition is essential for sperm and egg health,” Hannah says noting the importance of healthy food.
“Folic acid (400mg daily) is recommended by the NHS for anyone who is trying for a baby. Plus Vit D is a good idea as so many people are low in this in the UK,” she explains.
According to the fertility expert, a good diet with fruit and veg and lots of protein is best, noting the Mediterranean diet is great for fertility.
And like with sperm health, it takes about 3-6 months to positively impact good hormones and egg quality so give yourself time.
Know when you’re fertile
On average, there are only five days each month when women are fertile, so it’s important to get it right.
“Tracking you’re cervical mucus (egg white and stretchy) is your most reliable sign that you’re fertile so use this to know when to have sex,” says Hannah.
Don’t always rely on tech
Ovulation tracking apps are a great idea for some but Hannah says they’re not always reliable.
Hannah explains: ” Your app uses an algorithm and your time of ovulation can move every month.”
Here comes the fun part – the sex. And make sure you do lots of it, Hannah says.
In fact, you shouldn’t just be having sex in your fertile window but other days of the month too.
“Having sex or ejaculating will keep the sperm fresh and optimized for your next cycle if you’re not successful during [the current] one,” says Hannah.
When you find out you’re pregnant:
`There are a few things you need to do when you find out you are pregnant, and while it might be obvious to some, it’s not always the case.
This refers to alcohol, but Hannah says expectant mums should assess their caffeine intake too and reduce it as much as possible.
Avoid some foods
In Hannah’s opinion, undercooked or raw meats/fish should be avoided. So too should unpasteurized dairy and raw or undercooked eggs.
Hannah says: “Continue to take the folic acid and Vitamin d, and continue eating well.”
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Hannah says: “If you were active before you were pregnant then carry on if you feel like it.
“But slow down if you’re not feeling it and build up slowly if you’re starting new activities.”