What you eat – and how much you eat – can affect your ability to conceive a child – both positively and negatively. Food and fertility are linked, so if you stick to a balanced diet, you can boost your chances of conceiving and of having a healthy baby.
Reach you ideal body weight
It is always a good idea to consult your GP and/or nutritionist in order to shed some weight (or gain a little if you are underweight) while you attempt to conceive. Being over weight or under weight can reduce your chances of conceiving.
Follow a healthy eating plan
Healthy eating means eating a balanced diet and avoiding foods high in fat and sugar, and should include:
- Fruit and vegetables – at least five portions per day;
- Carbohydrates such as bread, paste, rice and potatoes;
- Protein such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and pulses;
- Dairy food such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, containing calcium;
- Iron-rich foods, such as red meat, pulses, dried fruit, bread, green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals, to build up your resources of iron in preparation for pregnancy
Start taking a supplement
You should also ask your GP to recommend a good vitamin supplement that is formulated for pregnant woman in order to ensure that your body contains all the vitamins needed when you fall pregnant.
You should start taking a folic acid supplement from the time you stop using contraception generally until the 12th week of pregnancy. Your GP should prescribe a folic acid supplement, because the supplement you use should not contain too much vitamin A or fish liver oil. Too much vitamin A during pregnancy could harm your baby. Folic acid reduces the baby’s risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.
Cut back on alcohol and caffeine
Cut back on alcohol or preferably stop drinking alcohol altogether during your pregnancy, because it could harm your developing fetus.
As part of your preparation for pregnancy you could start to wean yourself from caffeine. Although there is no consistent evidence that link caffeine to fertility problems, there is a link to miscarriage and low birth weight.