Lifestyle and tips
A healthy lifestyle is of course advisable for everyone. If you want to get pregnant, it increases the chance of conceiving and in many cases lowers the chance of a miscarriage. The advice given is intended to help you start a pregnancy as optimal and healthy as possible.
A healthy weight is important if you want to get pregnant. The BMI is a index to calculate if you have a healthy weight.
If your BMI is between 20 and 25, your weight is fine.
With a BMI below 19 or above 27, fertility is clearly reduced. It is then advisable to gain or lose some weight. Feel free to ask for help from a dietician, this is reimbursed by your Dutch health insurance.
If your BMI is above 30,this reduces fertility and also increases the risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes and pregnancy related blood pressure problems.
Men who are very overweight can be less fertile.
Nutrition & supplements
A healthy, varied diet is of great importance if you want to get pregnant. Provide at least 3 main meals and in between 1 or 2 snacks if necessary. It is important that you consume at least 200 grams of fresh vegetables, two pieces of fruit, whole grain products and sufficient liquids (at least 1.5 liter/ day = 8 glasses).
When you want to become pregnant it is recommended to take 0.5 mg folic acid (vitamin B11), this reduces the chance of having a child with a neural tube defect (open spine)up to 70%. You start the folic acid supplementation 4 weeks before the conception and continue up to the 10th week of the pregnancy. After the 10th week you can stop. It is therefore advisable to start taking folic acid 1 month before you stop your birth control. Folic acid is available at any pharmacy or drugstore.
It’s fine to continue exercising if you’re trying to get pregnant. Certainly in the case of overweight it has a positive effect on fertility.
However, exercising extremely often, for example professionally, can reduce fertility. This is due to changes in the hormone balance.
Smoking, alcohol & drugs
When trying to get pregnant, the advice is to quit smoking. Smoking reduces your monthly chance of getting pregnant by half. And smoking increases the risk of miscarriage. Passive smoke is also harmful. It reduces fertility because it has a negative effect on the quality of the sperm cells.
Alcohol and drugs also reduce female and male fertility. In women it can prevent the ovulating. The quality of sperm decreases, the number of sperm cells decreases and there are significantly more abnormal sperm cells. On average one glass of wine a day increases the risk of miscarriage by three.
If you want to get pregnant, it is wise to both not to drink alcohol. This increases the chance of conceiving and decreases the risk of a miscarriage.
Quitting drugs often causes unpleasant symptoms, such as depression or anxiety attacks. But if you want to have children, there is no other option. Ask your doctor for help. He can refer you to an organization for the right guidance.
Medication doesn’t always go well with pregnancy. But sometimes you really need certain medication. Therefore, always contact your doctor or specialist if you want to have children and use medication. The doctor will check whether the dosage needs to be adjusted or whether other medication is a better alternative. Never suddenly stop using your medication! Always do this in consultation with a doctor.
Also be aware that medication your partner is taking, could affect his fertility. This is stated in the package leaflet.
It is important to realize that medication available without a prescription and homeopathic remedies are not always harmless! So always first read the package leaflet and use it as little as possible.
Work & harmful substances
It is wise to check whether your working environment poses a risk to fertility. This may be the case if you work with toxic substances, chemicals or exposition to radiation. The egg is sensitive to this during fertilization. Special work clothes, good ventilation and other precautions can protect you.
If you think you are at risk during your work, ask your employer for extra measures and preferably ask for these before you are pregnant. This can also be done at the company doctor or health and safety service.