So you’re preparing for pregnancy – congratulations!
It’s important to know what you can do before pregnancy to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Good nutrition, good general health, and exercise are the most important aspects of getting ready for pregnancy. Below are some general guidelines that will assist you in preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy.
Visit your GP
As soon as you begin thinking about pregnancy, schedule an appointment with your GP to check your general health status. Your GP will be able to advise you on blood or urine tests you will need,(see list of blood or urine tests required). Your GP will also inform you of medications to take and precautions you may need to take, especially if you have on-going medical conditions.
Start taking Folic Acid
Folic acid is essential if you're trying to get pregnant. Not only does it protect the female reproductive system, it also reduces a baby's risk of developing birth defects of the spine, such as spina bifida. Ideally, you should start taking folic acid one month before you get pregnant. You will need to visit your GP for a prescription for this medication.
For more information about folic acid and how much you need to take before and during pregnancy click here.
Kick the smoking habit
There is no better time to kick the habit and there is no more important time either. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor or nurse about stop-smoking programmes and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
If you and/or your partner or family/whānau would like help to stop smoking, the following agencies Quitline and TALA Pasifika are on hand to help. By quitting, you are ensuring your baby will grow and thrive in a toxin free environment.
Stop drinking alcohol
No amount of alcohol consumption is safe during pregnancy – when you drink, so does your baby! If you want to get pregnant, then stopping alcohol will ensure you are giving your baby the best possible start in life.
If you and your partner or whanau are worried and need support to reduce your alcohol intake and become alcohol free, contact the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797.
You can also search the National Addictions Treatment Directory to find a service nearest to you. Many of these services (which also include other drugs) are available to support your partner and/or family/aiga/fanau/magafaoa.
Healthy eating and exercise
Having a nutritious and balanced diet coupled with exercise is just as important before pregnancy as it is during pregnancy. By making nutritious food choices now, your body will be stocked up with the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. The same is true for exercise. A healthy exercise program which includes 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming or cycling, on most days of the week will also ensure that your body will be physically fit for pregnancy and labour.
Having trouble getting pregnant?
Getting pregnant may not happen straight away. When you can't get pregnant, and things look good from the outside, it can be extremely frustrating.
If you haven't been trying for at least six months, or you haven't been timing sex for ovulation, then you should keep on trying. If you have been trying for six months to a year, and you're still not pregnant, this would be a good time to see your GP or a fertility specialist. Having regular menstrual cycles doesn't mean you're in the clear. There are many possible reasons for why you are having trouble getting pregnant.
‘Be Fertility Fit’ is a NZ public education campaign to raise awareness of the impact of five key factors on fertility: age, timing of sex, weight, alcohol and smoking.
Awareness of 'fertility fitness' can help women and men:
- Maximise chances of natural conception for couples trying to conceive
- Improve chances of success through Assisted Reproductive Technology
- Optimise the lifelong health of your future child
- Preserve fertility for those who plan to have a family in the future
Click here to take the 'Fertility Fitness Quiz' online.
Agencies that support fertility needs are:
Fertility Plus, Repromed, and Fertility Associates NZ. These services undertake both privately and publically funded treatments for individuals facing fertility problems. To see if you're eligible for publically funded treatment, talk to your GP or contact these services directly.
If you think you may be pregnant and would like to confirm this, you can either visit your GP, get in contact with a midwife or purchase a pregnancy test directly from a pharmacy.
There are also several services who you can provide a CONFIDENTIAL and FREE medical quality pregnancy test for you:
- Family Planning Association (22 years and under)
- Family Life Pregnancy Crisis Centre - 0800 367 5433 (24/7)
- UCHOOSE - 0800 824 6673 (24/7)
- Pregnancy Help Inc
Alternatively, call Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you are unsure what you should do.