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HealthInfo Aoraki South Canterbury

Planning a pregnancy

Many pregnancies are unplanned, but if you're sexually active and thinking about getting pregnant, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of a healthy, happy pregnancy.

Talk to your GP about medicines and health conditions

If you have any medical conditions (such as diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure or thyroid problems) or if you take any regular medicines, it's best to see your GP before you get pregnant. This is because some medicines aren't safe to take when you're pregnant, and your doctor may advise you to change to another medicine.

You may also need to be monitored more closely while you're pregnant.

Take folic acid

Taking folic acid reduces the chances of your baby having brain or spinal cord problems. It's best to start taking it four weeks before you intend to get pregnant but if you get pregnant without planning to do so, take it as soon as you find out. Keep taking it until your 12th week of pregnancy.

You can buy folic acid in a pharmacy, or you can get it on prescription from your GP.

Stop smoking and avoid alcohol

Smoking lowers your chances of getting pregnant and is bad for you and your baby. It's best to stop smoking before you start trying to get pregnant but it's never too late to quit and get health benefits for you and your baby.

Alcohol can reduce fertility in both men and women, making it more difficult to get pregnant. So, it's best to stop drinking before you start trying to get pregnant.

Avoid alcohol while you are pregnant as it can damage your baby's developing brain.

Stay a healthy weight

Being underweight or overweight can make it more difficult to get pregnant. Being a healthy weight increases your chances of getting pregnant.

Get to know your menstrual cycle

You're more likely to get pregnant (conceive) if you have sex in the most fertile times of your cycle. That means having sex every day or two around the time you ovulate (release an egg).

Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa has a good pamphlet about how to recognise when you're most fertile.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed January 2022.


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Review key: HIPPR-440268