If you’re thinking about having a baby, you probably know quitting smoking and giving up alcohol are two really important steps to take to give your baby the best start in life. But there are many other factors to think about and plan for before you conceive.
Here are our top tips if you’re planning to start a family:
1. Review your diet
If you’re eating a wide variety of foods you shouldn’t need to take additional supplements pre and during pregnancy, except folic acid and iodine. It’s recommended you start taking folic acid supplements at least one month before pregnancy, and folic acid and iodine supplements are recommended throughout your pregnancy to help reduce your chances of having a baby with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. If you’re getting ready to try for a baby, start now! Find out more about folic acid during pregnancy.
2. Have a check-up with your GP
Your doctor may check your weight (being overweight or underweight can affect fertility), review any medications or supplements you’re taking, offer pre-pregnancy advice and answer the questions you have.
During pregnancy, it’s important you’re protected against infections and illnesses that can be harmful to you and your baby. Measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and pneumococcal infections can cause complications to your unborn baby, so you may need a booster before conceiving. Your doctor can organise a blood test to check your immunity. Read more about pregnancy and immunisation.
3. Research a lead maternity carer (LMC)
An LMC is a health professional, usually a midwife or specialist doctor, who will look after you throughout your pregnancy and 4–6 weeks after your baby is born. It’s a good idea to choose your LMC early in your pregnancy, so ask for recommendations from friends, family members or your GP before you’re pregnant. Learn more about maternity care in New Zealand
4. Money matters
Having children can be expensive! Now is the time to think about how you’ll manage financially with a child, how much maternity leave you can afford to take or what expenses you can cut back on if you need to save money.
If you’re with a partner, it’s a good idea to have a conversation about money and work together to manage your finances.
5. Remember it takes two to make a baby
Becoming pregnant is a team effort! While many couples planning to conceive focus on mum’s health, soon-to-be dads also need to think about factors that may affect their fertility, such as smoking, alcohol or being overweight.
6. Talk about expectations
Talk with your partner about your expectations about pregnancy and how they can best support you. It’s also a great time to talk about your hopes and dreams for your baby and your new family. Read more about supporting your partner during pregnancy.
7. Seek professional help if you’re having trouble conceiving
Getting pregnant can be difficult for some people and, remember, as we age it can become even more difficult.
In general, if you are aged over 35 and not pregnant within six months of trying (no contraception, regular sexual intercourse at your fertile time of the month, regular periods and cycle) visit your doctor and see if a referral to infertility services is advised.
If you’re aged under 35, the time to wait before seeking help varies – find out more about fertility and your biological clock.
Conditions such as polycystic ovaries and endometriosis can affect your fertility, as can abnormal sperm and or low sperm counts.
- What midwives need to know about iodine and folic acid tablets Ministry of Health
- Avoiding nutrient deficiencies in pregnancy Health Navigator
- Pregnancy and immunisation Health Navigator
- Male infertility and semen tests Fertility Associates
- Pregnancy – over 35 years Health Navigator
- When to talk to us Fertility Associates