If you suffer from chronic health problems (such as diabetes or epilepsy) or you require daily medication it might be necessary to optimise these before conceiving.
Discuss this with your GP. They might arrange for you to see a specialist before actually stopping your contraceptive method.
You and your partner can try to maximise your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and labour in a number of ways including:
- Having sex: It may sound obvious, but regular sex increases your chance of falling pregnant (recommendation to have sexual intercourse every 2-3 days, especially around fertile period of the month, starting around day 10 of your cycle. There is no need for temperature measurements or the use of ovulation testing kits. After 12 months of trying 80% of couples will achieve a pregnancy.
- Take a folic acid supplement: Folic acid is an important B vitamin that's been shown to prevent neural tube defects (NTD) such as spina bifida. It's recommended that you start taking a supplement before you start trying to get pregnant as NTDs occur in early pregnancy. Some women on certain medication need to take an increased dose of folic acid. Discuss this with your doctor or nurse.
- Giving up smoking: Smoking can reduce fertility in both men and women.
- Limiting alcohol intake: Heavy drinking may affect sperm quality and make a successful pregnancy less likely. Binge drinking in pregnancy can affect the brain development of the fetus; women are advised to drink 1-2 units of alcohol/week in pregnancy or abstain completely.
- Consider a sexual health screen if you or your partner haven't had one since you started to see each other.
- Being a healthy weight: Being a healthy weight helps conception and makes pregnancy safer for you. While being underweight can make you less fertile, being overweight (BMI above 25) reduces fertility, increases miscarriage risk and the risk of fetal abnomalities. If you are seriously overweight and wish to become pregnant, speak to your doctor.
- Taking regular exercise: This will reduce stress and increase your overall fitness. If you are overweight losing weight will increase the chances of conceiving. Too much exercise combined with low weight does reduce chance of conception.
- Keeping stress to a minimum: Stress can cause hormonal changes in the body, which can also lead to fertility problems.