Getting pregnant cannot be taken for granted and for some, it takes longer than originally hoped.  Lifestyle factors can play a part in speeding up the process.  Here are ten lifestyle tips to help you prepare for pregnancy.

Eat nutritious food.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients.  Include leafy greens, heart healthy beans, grains, seeds and whole milk products.  Reduce your consumption of sugar, highly processed foods and trans fats.

Stop smoking

The more you smoke, the more you risk negatively impacting your ability to get pregnant.  Smoking affects your oestrogen levels and ovulation. Smokers are more likely to experience early menopause and smoking can impair the quality of a woman’s eggs.

Avoid illegal drug use

Illegal drugs are considered to be unsafe in pregnancy and most will pass through the placenta to your baby in the womb.  Some may affect the healthy development of your baby.   If drugs are an issue for you, get help.  Being informed about the risks to a pregnancy will help you to make better choices.

No alcohol

A 2009 study done at Harvard University of couples undergoing IVF showed that women who drank more than six units per week were 18% less likely to conceive, while men were 14% less likely.

Have sex.

Regular intercourse 2-3 times per week ensures that you don’t miss the fertile window.  Some couples confine their sexual activity specifically to the time when the woman is ovulating.  Try instead, to ensure that you have sex regularly through the month.  Keeping sex spontaneous, relaxing and fun is the ideal.

Exercise regularly

Regular moderate exercise is good for your body, your weight and your stress levels.   That means that exercise may help you to get pregnant.  Avoid hard-core exercise that may, if over done, impact your menstrual cycle.

Take Folic Acid

Take a daily dose of 500ug folic acid three months before you plan to conceive, right up to and including the first trimester of your pregnancy.  Folic acid is crucial because it helps to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

Get blood tests

Ask your GP to check for rubella and chicken pox status, blood group Rh factor, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

Prescription medications

If you are on any medications, review their implications for pregnancy and indeed fertility with your GP.

Track your Menstrual Cycle

Make sure that you understand your menstrual cycle – the most fertile time is between days 8-14 of a regular monthly cycle.  However, many women have irregular periods and it is important to track and monitor those cycles so that you can work with your fertility doctor to know when ovulation is likely.

Manage your BMI

You can work out your appropriate weight, for your height using the Body Mass Index (BMI). Evidence suggests that fertility improves dramatically if people with a high BMI can achieve a 5% reduction in weight.  In fact, the ideal weight is a BMI below 30.

Check your Ovarian Reserve

Blood test to measure a woman’s level of Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) – a hormone secreted by cells in developing egg sacs – is a good indicator of her ovarian reserve.