If you’re thinking of trying for a baby, we’re here to help you improve your chances of becoming pregnant, including advice on what vitamins could help, & which ones you should avoid

When you're planning to conceive, there are certain things you can do that can benefit the health of your future baby. It's important that you and your partner take care of both your physical health and overall wellbeing, as this can improve your chances of becoming pregnant.

A big part of supporting your health involves eating a healthy, balanced and varied diet to make sure your body is healthy and ready to conceive. Lifestyle habits like regular exercise and managing everyday stress can also play a key role.

Around 8 out of 10 couples conceive naturally within a year of trying, however this depends on things such as age, lifestyle and other factors. Some people get pregnant straight away, for others it can take a bit longer. 

Some people may need an extra helping hand and, unfortunately, some can experience fertility setbacks. It’s important not to compare yourself to others when trying for a baby, as everyone’s journey is different. 

If you’re under 36 and haven’t conceived after a year of trying, speak to your GP. If you’re 36 or over, or have any reason to be concerned about your fertility, have a chat with your GP when you decide you’d like to start trying for a baby. 

What to do when trying to conceive

• If you're pregnant or trying to conceive, you should avoid smoking or drinking alcohol. Smoking and drinking can have harmful effects on your unborn baby and can also affect your chances of conception

• If you're trying to get pregnant, it's best to achieve and maintain a healthy weight in order to reduce the chances of pregnancy complications. A person’s weight is generally considered healthy when their BMI (Body Mass Index) is between 18.5 and 24.9. It's been found that having a BMI of over 30 can decrease a person's chances of becoming pregnant

• A fertility tracking app can help you keep tabs on your cycle and find your most fertile windows for the best time to conceive 

• Take good care of your mental health and wellbeing. Trying to get pregnant can be an emotionally draining time, so it’s important to look after yourself and try not to put too much pressure on yourself or your partner

• You and your partner may also want to consider taking a supplement designed to help support your fertility

Vitamins & supplements for when you’re trying to conceive

It's important that your body gets all the vitamins and minerals that you and your future baby need for a safe pregnancy. 

The best way to make sure that you're getting these vitamins is by eating a varied and balanced diet. However, there are certain supplements that are recommended when you're trying to conceive.

Folic acid

Folic acid is available by itself as a supplement or as one of the ingredients in many pre-natal vitamins. Even women who normally eat a varied, healthy diet should take a folic acid supplement when trying to conceive. 

It's recommended that you take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, starting from the time you stop taking contraception or start trying to become pregnant, and continuing into week 12 of pregnancy. 

If you have a BMI of over 30, a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, a family history of spina bifida, or if you're taking anti-epileptic medicines, the recommended dose increases to five milligrams of folic acid daily. This needs to be prescribed for you by a doctor.

Vitamin D

All adults should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D, especially during the darker months of the year. When you spend time outside during the summer, your body makes vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin.

It's particularly important for pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding a baby, you should make sure you take a daily vitamin D supplement. This is key during autumn and winter, when it's harder to get vitamin D naturally. 

The NHS advise pregnant women to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day – check the labels on your daily vitamin supplement to find out what level of vitamin D it provides. 

Vitamins to avoid when you’re trying to get pregnant

There are some vitamins that can harm the development of your unborn baby. For example, you should not take cod liver oil or any supplements containing vitamin A (retinol) when you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. Vitamin A is present in many multivitamins and fish liver oil supplements, so always check the label. 

If you’d like to take a multivitamin supplement, make sure it doesn’t contain vitamin A. You could also take a multivitamin especially formulated for pregnant women or those trying for a baby. Speak to your pharmacist for advice if you're unsure.

Next steps

It's always a good idea to eat well, keep fit, and get enough nutrition, but having a healthy lifestyle is especially important when you're planning to get pregnant. 

Eating a varied and balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking the appropriate food supplements are all great ways to improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy and minimise the chances of pregnancy complications. 

If you're unsure where to start, speak with your GP or pharmacist. Your pharmacist can also recommend which food supplements to take.

If you’re not pregnant after a year of trying to conceive, it might be worth seeing your GP or a fertility specialist. They can carry out tests on you and your partner, do some initial assessments to help find out what might be causing fertility problems and advise you on what to do next. 

Remember, trying for a baby can be an emotionally exhausting time, so it’s important to be kind to yourself and each other.   

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