Some of us just know when we’re ready. Some of us never feel like we’re ready but dive in anyway. Some of us don’t even plan on conceiving, but when it happens we’re overjoyed. Or at least equal parts overjoyed and terrified. The truth is pregnancy is different for everyone, but if you are planning on having a baby you’ll find plenty of helpful advice here.
Good habits start early
Everyday life takes over and it’s easy to neglect your diet and exercise regime. While conception is different for all women, here’s a simple rule of thumb that we can all follow: it’s never too early to start taking care of yourself. Healthy parents have a better chance of conceiving and giving their baby the best possible start in life.
It is recommended that you follow a healthy balanced diet because eating well helps prepare your body both before and during pregnancy. Eat three regular meals every day with a small snack in between if needed. Eat a variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day. Choose and prepare foods and drinks which are low in saturated fat, with little or no added sugar and that are low in salt. Drink plenty of fluids, water is best.
Folic acid is a must
Folic acid is an essential B-vitamin that is important during conception and pregnancy to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Take one 800ug folic acid-only tablet daily for at least four weeks before pregnancy, and until the end of the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid is found in some foods like green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes and grains. You don’t get enough folic acid from diet alone during pregnancy, and that’s why you need to take a folic acid-only supplement. Your doctor or midwife will recommend a folic acid-only supplement to take before and during pregnancy.
Try to achieve a healthy body weight with heathy eating and regular physical activity. Work on improving your fitness, as carrying excess weight can put extra strain on your body. Even small amounts help, so when you get a chance to add exercise into your day – take it! It is recommended that you do at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity or 1 ¼ vigorous-intensity physical activity spread throughout the week before pregnancy.
Aim to quit well before you start trying for a baby. There are a lot of resources to help you take that healthy leap.
If you’re concerned about your diet, weight or fitness, see your health professional for advice or referral to a dietitian.
Ministry of Health. 2020. Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults. Updated 2020. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.