If you are undergoing fertility treatment the following health and lifestyle information will help you in reaching your goal of pregnancy and ensure the health and safety of your baby.
Folate can be taken alone or with other pre-pregnancy supplements and I recommend taking it at least 2 months prior to pregnancy and for 3 months into the pregnancy. Doing so will reduce the chance of your baby having a defect in the neural tube, such as spina bifida.
Rubella and Chicken Pox
If undergoing fertility treatment I recommend having a blood test to check your immunity to rubella and chicken pox. If you are not immune, you can be immunised to reduce the risk of infection in pregnancy.
It’s important to ensure your pap smears are up to date. Even if it isn’t quite due yet I would recommend having one to ensure any issues are dedicated before you start treatment.
A healthy diet is important for both men and women’s fertility health. A healthy diet includes fruit and vegetables each day and good quality protein such as fish, eggs and pulses (beans, lentils etc). Including complex carbohydrates, whole grains and plenty of calcium in your diet is also important. If possible, avoid excessive additives such as colours, flavours and preservatives and try to keep to a relatively low fat diet, and to include mainly healthy fats such as olive oil. Fish oil supplements can be good for fertility and in pregnancy, and may reduce the risk of postnatal depression.
When you are pregnant its important to remember to avoid eating food that could contain listeria, which can potentially harm your unborn child. These foods include soft cheese such as feta, pate, cold meats, pre-prepared salads and raw or smoked seafood. I also recommend limiting the amounts of fish known to have high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, marlin, shark/flake, orange roughy, tuna and catfish.
Weight can affect the fertility of both men and women. If you are overweight, your body mass index (BMI) will be more than 25. The closer to BMI 25 the better and even a small reduction in weight has been proven to improve fertility. Being underweight can also affect a woman’s fertility (a BMI lower than 20) as it can affect your period. If you have any concerns around your weight and how it may be affecting your fertility I would encourage you to speak to me so we can determine the best path forward together.
Smoking is extremely harmful to your fertility, your general health and your baby. Smoking can affect the fertility of both males and females, causing erectile dysfunction and increased DNA damage to sperm and eggs.
While trying to conceive and during pregnancy there are no safe levels of alcohol to consume for a woman. Ideally men should keep their alcohol consumption to a minimum and follow current safe drinking guidelines which are an average of 2 drinks per day maximum, with several alcohol free days each week and no more than 4 standard drinks in one session.
Both men and women’s fertility will benefit from being fit and as a woman this will also benefit you during pregnancy. It’s also important to ensure you’re undertaking exercise that’s appropriate for your level of fitness and to avoid intense or high impact exercise if you’re trying to conceive.
Both men and women ideally need to consume less than 200mg of caffeine a day, which equals a maximum of 1 to 2 coffees or glasses of cola/energy drinks, or 2 to 3 teas. Chocolate also contains caffeine. If you need to cut down, I recommend doing so slowly to reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms.
Maintaining a positive state of mind also improves your health and well-being. A degree of stress in life is inevitable, but how you deal with it is important. If you are struggling emotionally it’s really important to express those feelings and I would encourage you to always be open with me about how you’re feeling. By doing so I can ensure you receive the emotional support you need.
If you are trying to conceive or undergoing fertility treatment I recommend avoiding excessive heat from saunas and spas. It’s also important that men avoid situations where their scrotal area is unable to keep cooler than the rest of the body – keep laptops on the desk and off the lap.