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Preparing for pregnancy

Couples trying for a baby often find the process extremely stressful, but with a little help and advice many of the stresses can be avoided. Preparation is key to building the foundations of a healthy mind and body for both men and women as they approach pregnancy. This article provides advice on what to expect when preparing for pregnancy.

Dos and don'ts

Smoking

One of the most important things to stop doing when preparing for pregnancy is smoking. Smoking can reduce fertility in both men and women and impact the health of the unborn child. Make an appointment with your doctor and ask for help to quit smoking as soon as possible.

Drinking

Equally harmful to the healthy conception of a child is the consumption of alcohol. Men who drink heavily are at risk of it affecting their sperm count. The UK government advises women who are trying to conceive to avoid alcohol completely, although other health experts recommend an intake no greater than one or two units a week.

A healthy diet and exercise

It sounds obvious, but a healthy diet is a must when preparing for pregnancy. Women who maintain a normal weight increase their chances of getting pregnant, while exercise reduces stress and boosts fitness. All these factors improve the chances of getting pregnant and having a successful pregnancy.

Folic acid

An essential B vitamin that's been shown to reduce the occurrence of neural tube defects (NTD) like spina bifida, folic acid should be taken as a supplement before conception, as NTDs tend to occur early in the pregnancy cycle. Folic acid can also be found in dark green vegetables, breakfast cereals, liver and sunflower seeds.

Have more sex

As everyone knows, sex is key to getting pregnant, but regular sex at a women's most fertile time significantly increases the chances of conception. In most women ovulation occurs once during their cycle, and around 14 days before the menstrual period. When preparing for pregnancy make time for sex - and don't forget the romance.

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