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"Preparing for Pregnancy"

Unfortunately, many women are already two weeks pregnant by the time a missed period confirms it. But, by making early preparations you can give both yourself and your baby the very best chances of a successful pregnancy and healthy baby.

Getting Pregnant
Before getting pregnant, think about whether there are any hereditary medical or family conditions that need to be considered.

Contraception
If you have been using any form of contraception you will obviously need to stop!

You are most likely to conceive if you have intercourse around 5 days before you ovulate. And many doctors advise having sex 2-3 times a week throughout your cycle to stand the best chance of conception.

Lifestyle Changes
Both potential mums and dads should take extra care of their diet and lifestyle when they are considering having a baby.

If either or both of you smoke or drink, you should ideally cease altogether or at the very least cut down drastically.

Dietary Changes
Improve your diet. It is important to build up a good store of vitamins and minerals before you get pregnant.

Body Weight
Even if you are not yet pregnant, you still risk high blood pressure and diabetes if you are overweight. Lose excess weight carefully by following a calorie-controlled diet and exercising regularly, not by taking appetite suppressants.

Stress
Stress can be detrimental to both mother and baby as it can cause high blood pressure and even spontaneous labour in some cases.

Caffeine
Although there is lots of conflicting advice about how much caffeine is safe, it is generally believed that moderate consumption is fine. You may want to cut down if you drink a lot of coffee or other caffeine- rich drinks, especially in the early weeks.

Folic Acid/ Folate
Women are often advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid supplements from twelve weeks pre-pregnancy until twelve weeks into the pregnancy. Folic acid is also found in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli as well as oranges and enriched breakfast cereals and wholemeal bread.

Hazards at Work
Unfortunately some working environments can lead to fertility problems or even pose a risk to the developing baby. Workplaces that may be a risk include those that work with some chemicals, X-rays, lead and anaesthetic gases.

Finally, if you think carefully about the new life you will be bringing into the world, and make the necessary changes to your lifestyle and diet, then at least you know you are giving your longed-for baby the very best chances of developing into a healthy human being.

And you can enjoy your pregnancy in the knowledge that you have done your very best. Good Luck!