This article is part of our Healthy Body Healthy Mind series
Falling pregnant is an exciting time but it is also scary when you start worrying about all that could go wrong. There are lots of things you can do to minimise risk to baby and do your best to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
GP check up:
When planning pregnancy it is a good idea to have a health check with your GP. They will check your immunisation status including rubella and whooping cough, do a pap smear if you are due, discuss any medications you are taking, discuss any genetic issues and do a health check and discuss your options for pregnancy care.
It is recommended to take folic acid 0.5mg daily. Start taking 1 month before conception and continue at least 3 months after falling pregnant.
Folic acid reduces the risk of baby being born with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. People with diabetes, taking anti-epileptic medication or with a family history of neural tube defects, may be at a higher risk and should discuss this with your doctor.
Iodine is vital for babies growth and development of brain and nervous system. 150micrograms a day is recommended in pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Most people do not get this through diet, so supplementation should be considered.
Healthy weight and regular exercise
Being over weight or under weight can effect fertility and ovulation. Healthy eating in pregnancy is important to ensure adequate nutrients to your growing baby. This means you should not diet and should eat a wide variety of food from the main food groups. Regular and moderate exercise is important in pregnancy. Be careful of contact sport – discuss with your doctor.
Caffeine may potentially reduce fertility
Food contaminated with the Listeria bacteria may be harmful during pregnancy. Avoid food which cause a listeriosis infection.
Smoking during pregnancy can effect the development of baby. Smoking can also contribute to infertility.
Avoid alcohol or illicit drugs
Alcohol can reduce sperm count and result in infertility. Alcohol during pregnancy can cause mental and physical defects in the developing baby. Illicit drugs can cause harm to your unborn baby.
References: Effects and safety of periconceptional folate supplementation for preventing birth defects. Cochrane Review
Tanya Burgess (BPharm, Grad Dip Clinical Pharmacy) is the mother of 3 little girls and is a qualified pharmacist at Fremantle Hospital with over 14 years hospital pharmacy experience. To see all Tanya’s articles, click here.