Getting Ready To Get Pregnant

Preparing for Pregnancy showing healthy food

Now that you have decided to have a baby, what can you do to improve your chances of carrying a healthy pregnancy?  Here are a few things that can contribute towards a healthier result.


Get a Medical Checkup

Before any potential pregnancy, booking an appointment with your doctor or midwife is always a good idea.  Even if you feel healthy and believe you are ready, your doctor may identify or advise on some changes to increase your chances of an optimum outcome. What to expect…


  • Your doctor will typically give you a head-to-toe examination and discuss your current health or any relevant family history. Remember that some health problems in your family can be passed on to your child.
  • Your doctor will do blood work to check your cholesterol, thyroid levels, and more. The thyroid regulates your metabolism, and an undiagnosed thyroid disorder can affect your chances of conceiving.  Some symptoms of a dysfunctional thyroid are weight changes, mood changes, sensitivity to cold/hot, skin dryness, palpitations, and fatigue.
  • Any vaccinations that may have lapsed should also be updated. Chickenpox and rubella are the two main ones to be concerned about, as the vaccines for these two diseases are “live” and should be taken at least three months before pregnancy.
  • Long-term health problems such as asthma or diabetes should be stabilized before a pregnancy is attempted.


Birth Control

It is recommended that birth control pills or pregnancy prevention implants be stopped or removed, and an alternative method of birth control be practiced for at least three months before conception.  Some long-term hormonal contraceptives may require a few months for the hormonal effects to wear off and for a woman’s normal menstrual cycle to occur.  Hormonal contraceptives usually contain estrogen and progesterone, which suppress natural ovulation or prevent implantation, and the effects of these hormones may linger in the body for several months.   Some hormonal contraceptives may take nine months to a year for the reproductive system to fully recover.


Pregnant woman stretching

Daily caffeine intake should be reduced to below 2 cups (500ml) of coffee or a maximum of 5 cans (2L) of soda that contains caffeine. However, consuming this volume of soda daily is not advisable, either due to sugar content or unnatural additives. Higher consumption levels than these are linked to difficulty in achieving pregnancy and an increased chance of miscarriage.  


Discuss any prescribed and over-the-counter medications you are taking with your doctor.  Most medicines (including over the counter) have risks.  Your doctor may recommend medicine changes once she/he knows you intend to attempt a pregnancy.  If medications are not necessary, it is recommended that you avoid taking them.


Food Consumption

Maintain or strive for a healthy body weight and a balanced diet.  Being overweight during pregnancy may increase your chances of high blood pressure, diabetes, miscarriage, stillbirth, and congenital disabilities.  Being underweight during pregnancy can lead to malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, anemia, growth and developmental issues for the baby, increased risk of miscarriage, and premature birth. 

  • Avoid artificial sweeteners and caffeine.
  • Eat foods that are high in protein.
  • Eating fish 2-3 times a week is recommended. However, some types of fish may be high in mercury or other toxins, which can take up to a year for your body to clear from your blood.  Fish thought to contain high mercury levels are swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark, and limit your intake of tuna to 1 can (85g) of white tuna per week.  In addition, experts recommend that pregnant women avoid raw or undercooked fish.
  • Avoid all foods made with raw or lightly cooked egg; unpasteurized soft cheeses, milk, and juices; raw vegetable sprouts and herbal teas.
  • Healthy fats like omega-3s are liked to improve sperm count and motility. Therefore, salmon, sardines, leafy greens, and walnuts are encouraged when trying to get pregnant.



Vitamins & Folic Acid

Prenatal vitamins are good insurance for you and your future baby. Studies have shown that prenatal vitamins can lower your risk of premature birth and reduce morning sickness.  Folic Acid is also important before and during pregnancy.  It may protect your baby from neural tube problems (spine defects), which may occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.  A dose of around 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid per day, started 3-6 months before achieving a pregnancy, is recommended.  Once pregnant, your doctor may prescribe prenatal vitamins with a higher dose of folic acid.  Folic acid, zinc, and vitamin C are also recommended for sperm providers, as these nutrients are essential for optimal production and quality.

  • Remember to consult your doctor on ALL medications you are taking, as some prenatal vitamins may contain folic acid, and you need to be aware of the levels of folic acid you are consuming.
  • Be careful not to consume too much vitamin A, D, E, and K as these vitamins in higher doses than the daily recommended intake can cause congenital disabilities.



Establishing an exercise routine before pregnancy may help you handle the physical changes to your body during pregnancy and labor.  Most women who are already physically active can safely maintain their exercise routine throughout their pregnancy. It is recommended that a pregnant woman try to exercise for 30 minutes five days per week, even if this is just a 30-minute brisk walk.  Always consult your doctor on your exercise routine while pregnant. 

Finally, be patient.   Even the most fertile woman only has, at best, a 25% chance of conceiving per cycle. 




“Whether your pregnancy was meticulously planned, medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, one thing is certain – your life will never be the same.” – Catherine Jones.


Deciding to have a child–it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone



Author: Karen Synesiou, Infertility Portal, Inc.