Planning your pregnancy

Making sure you and your partner are as healthy as possible before getting pregnant can have real benefits to you and your unborn baby.

Making sure you and your partner are as healthy as possible before getting pregnant can have real benefits to you and your unborn baby.

You can improve your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy by following some simple tips:

Folic acid

Take a 400 microgram (400mcg) supplement of folic acid every day while you’re trying to get pregnant, and up until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.

Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida.

You can get folic acid tablets at pharmacies, or talk to your GP about getting a prescription.

Don’t worry if you get pregnant unexpectedly and weren’t taking folic acid supplements. Start taking them as soon as you find out, until you’re past the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Some women will be advised to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams (5mg) of folic acid each day until they’re 12 weeks pregnant if they have a higher risk of having a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects.

You may have a higher risk if:

  • you or your partner have a neural tube defect
  • you previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
  • you or your partner have a family history of neural tube defects
  • you have diabetes

If any of the above applies to you, talk to your GP – they can prescribe a higher dose of folic acid. Your GP or midwife may also recommend additional screening tests during your pregnancy.

You should also talk to your GP if you’re taking anti-epileptic medication, as you may also need to take a higher dose of folic acid.

Stopping smoking

Smoking during pregnancy be more specific please use NHS Choices page for info i.e. every cigarette you smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, so smoking when you are pregnant harms your unborn baby has been linked to a variety of health problems. Quitting can be hard, no matter how much you want to, but support is available.

When planning a pregnancy please  speak to your GP or midwife. During pregnancy ULHT now offer an in-house dedicated smoking cessation service for all maternity patients, called the STAAR Team, and can support referrals for partners and significant others in household.

Visit the NHS website.

Cutting out alcohol

Don’t drink alcohol if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. The risks are greater the more you drink. Drinking heavily throughout pregnancy can cause foetal alcohol syndrome. The Chief Medical Officer recommends that the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all.

If you think you need any help and support visit NHS website or the Addaction website.

Keeping to a healthy weight

If you’re overweight, you may have problems getting pregnant, and fertility treatment is less likely to work.

Being overweight and having a BMI over 30 raises the risk of some pregnancy problems, such as high blood pressure, blood clots, miscarriage and gestational diabetes.

Having a healthy diet and getting moderate exercise are advised in pregnancy, and it’s important not to gain too much weight. You can keep to a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and getting exercise.

More information is available on NHS website. Speak to your GP or midwife for help and guidance.