advice

joining the club:
preparing for pregnancy

stressed mum-to-be preparing for pregnancy

Starting a family is one of the biggest and most exciting decisions you're ever likely to make, and it's only the start of an incredible journey. If you feel ready to take that next big step, read through our list of pre pregnancy tips to get you, your body and your home ready for a new family member.

ditch the bad habits

Cigarettes and alcohol are proven to be unhealthy for you, and they can be really harmful to unborn babies. Smoking has been linked to premature birth, miscarriage and infant breathing problems while alcohol can cause birth defects. Both can make conception more difficult, too. It's best to stop as soon as you decide you want to conceive, rather than waiting until you know you're pregnant. If you need some support to make this step, book an appointment with your GP.

take folic acid

Folic acid supplements make it less likely that your baby will be born with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida, so consider adding this important supplement to your shopping list. The NHS recommends taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, from the day you decide you want to conceive up until you're twelve weeks pregnant.

visit the doctor

Rubella (german measles) can be harmful if you catch it during pregnancy, so it's a good idea to visit your doctor before you start trying and make sure you've had the right jabs. Most people will have had two doses of the MMR vaccine as children. If you haven't, your GP can get you topped up in no time. It's important not to fall pregnant for a month afterwards, so keep using contraception in the meantime.

get to know your body

Mapping your menstrual cycle and knowing when you're about to release an egg will make conception a lot easier. Your cycle begins on the first day of your period, and ends on the first day of your next one. You're most fertile about 10-16 days before the end of each cycle, but don't restrict yourself. Having plenty of regular sex throughout the month will increase your chances of conceiving.

eat healthily and take exercise

Your body is about to start the incredible process of creating new life, so it's a good idea to make sure it's in peak condition. Getting pregnant can be tricky if you're over or underweight, so aim for a body mass index (BMI) of around 19 to 25. Eating lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole-grains will give your body a big store of vitamins and minerals to draw on to keep you and baby nourished. Exercise can make you feel more energetic (and can make labour a bit easier in 9 months time).

start a savings account

Your little bundle of joy comes with a long list of expenses. It's estimated that little ones can cost up to £7200 in their first year alone, but it's not all scary numbers. There are some things you can buy second hand, but others (like infant car seats) need to be bought new so that they fit snugly and safely. Putting some money aside each month is a great cushion and means less money worries once your little one arrives.