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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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If you and your partner are thinking of planning a pregnancy, there are some simple steps that you can both take before conception which can help improve the overall health for you and your baby.

To ensure families receive all the key information before planning a pregnancy, the charity Tommy's, in partnership with other national agencies, has launched a free digital tool.

This will help you ensure that you are fit and well when you become pregnant, giving your baby the best start.

Planning for Pregnancy tool - Tommy's

By following the advice from Tommy's and the information below, you can:

  • improve your fertility (the ability to get pregnant)
  • protect your baby's future health
  • reduce your risk of problems in pregnancy.

When you are trying for a baby (have stopped contraception), you won't know you're pregnant for the first few weeks after conception takes place.

So, making changes to your lifestyle before pregnancy is linked to a healthier pregnancy overall, and improved health and development for your baby.

If you are planning to get pregnant, the NHS recommends that you make the following changes:

  • take 400mcgs Folic Acid*
  • stop or cut down on smoking
  • eat a healthy balanced diet - this improves fertility as well as affecting your baby's future health
  • stop or drink less alcohol
  • stay physically active
  • stop using any illegal substances
  • cut down on caffeine, if you drink a lot
  • aim to achieve a healthy weight for your height (a healthy BMI).

It is also important to check that you:

  • have had a cervical screening test in the last three years
  • have had the MMR vaccine, to ensure you are protected against rubella
  • don't take any new medication, or stop taking existing medication, without talking to your GP or healthcare professional
  • do not have any sexually transmitted infections.

*if you are diabetic, epileptic or have a family history of neural tube defects such as spina bifida or a BMI over 30, please see your GP, as a higher dose of 5mgs may be recommended.

For more information please see:

Maternal medicine

If you take any medication for mental illness, please speak to your GP or Mental Health Care Coordinator and do not stop your medication until you have discussed this with a health professional first.

If you have any pre-existing health needs such as cardiac, diabetes, epilepsy or renal issues, please see your GP about referral to our Pre-conceptual Care Clinic.

For general advice you can also see a midwife or contact a family planning service.

Genetic counselling

If you need pre-pregnancy genetic counselling because you are planning a pregnancy or you have recently found out that you are pregnant, please see your GP or midwife about referral to our Department of Clinical Genetics.

Department of Clinical Genetics