Pre-conception care

Enhance your fertility naturally

  • Cease Oral Contraceptive Pill as soon as possible, it is poison to natural fertility
  • Address menstrual irregularities sooner rather than later
  • Space your children, allowing adequate time for post natal recovery and recuperation
  • Reduce stress, practice relaxation, yoga, meditation, have a holiday
  • Avoid cold, raw foods and fluids, processed and junk food
  • Regular exercise that is appropriate to your fitness level
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid or restrict alcohol intake
  • Keep your reproductive organs warm, wear a singlet or a tummy warmer to protect your midriff

Pre-Conception Care
Preconception care can make a positive difference to your health and the health of your child. More and more evidence points to the fact that the way we were nourished and grew in our mother’s womb can have an important impact on your health as an adult. It is now popular to seek information and health care prior to trying to conceive a baby.

The aim of preconception care is to prepare your body for pregnancy, birth and beyond. Preconception care improves your chances of falling pregnant more easily, having a healthy pregnancy and health baby and aiding recovery after the birth.

Your preconception care plan may involve:

  • Charting your cycles to determine optimal conception times
  • Reducing and avoiding toxins in your environment and your body
  • Optimise egg and sperm quality and production with a nutritious diet
  • Stress, anxiety reduction with improved sleep quality
  • Herbal or nutritional support to improve hormonal balance and regulate menstruation
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture


Nutritional supplements when a couple are planning on having a baby
The one universally recommended supplement is folic acid. Folic acid is a B group vitamin that is needed for the healthy growth and development of the baby in the first weeks of life. By taking a folic acid supplement, research has found that birth defects such as spina bifida are reduced. The recommendation is to take at least 500 micrograms of folic acid per day for at least one prior to pregnancy and for the first three months of pregnancy (Australia New Zealand Food Authority, 1998).

Other nutritional supplements may be of benefit. It is wise to consult a health care practitioner specialising in preconception care for advise. Supplements that may be recommended include a balanced multivitamin/mineral supplement, iron (if stores are low), zinc (if a deficiency exists) and calcium if your diet is lacking. Obviously eating a well balanced diet is ideal and drinking plenty of water (10 to 12 glasses per day) is ideal.

Are there any tests or procedures recommended before falling pregnant?
A good place to start is by visiting a health care practitioner specialising in preconception health care. They can take a detailed history, provide a physical check and offer advise where necessary. Blood tests may be recommended. The blood tests may include a full blood count and ferritin levels (women often have low iron stores prior to pregnancy) and a test to see whether you are immune to rubella. Further blood tests depend on need. A test to check urine for infection, protein and glucose may be advised. A PAP smear may be recommended if it is due. A blood pressure check is done to ensure that it is within the normal range. A dental check up is also a good idea.

What simple steps couples can take to improve health before having a baby?
Some simple steps you can undertake include:

  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Take nutritional supplements wisely
  • Quit or cut down smoking cigarettes
  • Avoid caffeine – in large amounts caffeine has been shown to decrease the chances of falling pregnant. Once pregnant it is recommended that caffeine should be limited eg. Maximum of two cups of coffee or 3 cups of tea per day. Remember coke and chocolate also contains caffeine.
  • Avoid alcohol – Alcohol even in moderation has been found to reduce the chances of falling pregnant. Once pregnant there has been no safe level of alcohol identified – so ideally avoid alcohol all together.
  • Avoid medication unless recommended by a doctor (make sure that they are aware that you are trying to have a baby). This includes medication you can purchase over the counter.
  • Avoid contact with chemicals – You can use alternative green cleaning products, do not treat the house for pests, avoid passive smoking and use safety precautions at work if in contact with hazards eg. Chemicals, lead etc.
  • If you have a cat, get someone else to empty the kitty litter due to the risk of infection with toxoplasmosis
  • Avoid over heating – particularly saunas and spas. If exercising make sure you wear cool, comfortable clothing and drink plenty of water.
  • If you do not exercise, try to start a reasonable and regular exercise routine – this has great benefits for pregnancy as well as your general health
  • Avoid stress and practice relaxation
  • Visit a health care practitioner specialising in preconception care.
  • (Naish and Roberts, 1998; Ogle, 1999)

Things you can do to improve sperm quality
Whilst being treated, simple lifestyle changes can be implemented.

  • Avoid using tobacco, marijuana, anabolic steroids, and “recreational” drugs.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol.
  • Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals and heavy metals.
  • Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Avoid prolonged use of drugs with adverse effect on fertility.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise moderately, but not excessively.
  • Avoid testicular injury in sporting events.
  • If you bicycle, try using a softer saddle.
  • Wear looser fitting shorts and pants, Try not to carry a mobile phone in your pocket or on your belt, avoid using a laptop computer on your lap

Reference List

  • Australia New Zealand Food Authority. (1998). [Folate: Make it part of your day].
  • Naish, F., & Roberts, J. (1998). The natural way to better babies. Australia:
  • Ogle, A. (1998). Before your pregnancy: Prepare your body for a health
  • Ogle, A. (1999). [12 tips to follow before conceiving a baby]. ParenthoodWeb

© October 2009 Karen Pohlner & jane palmer