It’s important to start taking folate supplements in the first couple of months before you fall pregnant. Because conception is unlikely to occur immediately, you must continue this until you do fall pregnant, and even then for the three months afterwards to reduce the chance of neural tube defects in your baby.
Rubella (German Measles) vaccination
If you were born in Australia you may already have been vaccinated against rubella, but if you are unsure, you should speak to a doctor to test your immunity. It’s important to be sure about this because rubella can cause serious birth defects.
Avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals
Some occupations and locations involve or contain high levels of toxic elements. An embryo or foetus can be particularly susceptible to the negative effects of these and you should consider or seek advice about the risks of your occupation or where you live.
Sexually transmitted diseases can affect your chances of getting pregnant and can also be passed onto your baby. Consider getting a full STI check-up in the planning stages of pregnancy to ensure you can treat or manage any potential impacts.
You may have, know of, or suspect a family history of genetic conditions that could be passed onto your baby. If so, it’s important to discuss or test for these with a doctor. This can help inform your decision-making and assist you in planning to manage the condition in the event it is inherited by your baby.
Giving up alcohol, drugs and smoking
Not only do these behaviours reduce your chances of falling pregnant, but they can contribute to the chances of your baby developing birth defects and affect their health while in the womb. Don’t wait until you know you’re pregnant to give these up.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
Whether through diet, exercise or maintaining a healthy weight, it pays to look after yourself by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This will increase your chances of getting pregnant, contribute to the health of your baby and help make the journey of pregnancy a more manageable experience.