Lifestyle Changes Preconception
For Women and the Birthing Parent

Want to know how to improve your health before becoming pregnant? Welcome to our two-part series on lifestyle changes for preconception health. This week we will focus on the best changes for women and birthing parents to make before trying to conceive. 

Making certain lifestyle changes before trying to conceive can have the following benefits for you and your baby:

✅ Increase the likelihood of conceiving (in some cases)
✅ Improve your health
✅ Improve the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy and baby
Preconception Lifestyle Changes

Stop smoking, vaping or using nicotine-containing products 🚬
Pro tip: the first 24 hours are the hardest, get through that and you’ll find it much easier to quit for good.

Stop recreational drug use 🌱
In school, they say “Don’t do drugs, kids.” Well, the same applies to adults.

Reduce alcohol to 4 units per week or less 🍷
Pro tip: getting your partner or friends to join in with this can make reducing your alcohol intake easier.

Consider taking essential supplements: folic acid and vitamin D ☀️
Most people can obtain all the nutrients they need by eating a healthy and balanced diet. The NHS recommends taking:

  • 400 micrograms of folic acid when trying to conceive and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy which can significantly reduce the risk of birth defects. 
  • 10 micrograms of vitamin D can help your baby’s bones, teeth, kidneys, heart and nervous system, but it’s also great for you! In fact, the NHS recommends that everyone should take a vitamin D supplement between October and March as there’s not enough sunlight in these months.

Eat a balanced diet ⚖️
Lean meat, eggs, dairy products, fruit and vegetables are all important to keep you healthy. If you’re vegetarian make sure you’re getting enough iron and vitamin B12. If you’re vegan you also need to ensure you get enough calcium.

Maintain a healthy weight 🩺
Having a body mass index of 19 - 25 is generally considered ideal, but we recommend consulting your doctor for advice specific to you.

Exercise regularly 🏊‍♀️
Exercise doesn’t have to mean running a marathon. Lower-intensity exercise can also have great health benefits and can improve your fitness. You could start by getting 10,000 steps a day or taking the stairs instead of the lift – you can work up to swimming the channel.

Next week’s newsletter will look at lifestyle changes for men and second biological parents. We hope you have a wonderful weekend and we'll see you next Friday!

Our newsletters are written by our fantastic medical team
Dr. Louise, MBChB
Sandy, Embryologist
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