Choosing the right time to have a baby is a big decision and for couples who are having problems conceiving the path can be difficult.
Infertility Specialist and Obstetrician Dr Julie Lukic reveals how best to arm yourself – physically and emotionally - before taking the leap into parenthood.
When discussing conception the focus is most often on the woman but it is important to remember that men play an equally important role. The onus is on both partners to ensure they have done everything they can to be 'baby ready'.
However there is more to having a baby than just preparing the body for conception. There are also relationship and financial issues to consider.
1. Physical check up.
Both partners should see a doctor to check that there are no medical issues that might affect fertility. Vaccinations should be bought up to date, including Rubella and Whooping cough. Women should have a routine Pap smear and they should confirm that they are ovulating regularly.
2. Attain a healthy body weight.
Being excessively underweight, overweight or obese may hinder a woman's ability to ovulate. There is also now a growing body of evidence that suggests obesity in men can have serious effects on sperm quality.
3. Quit bad habits.
Studies have shown that alcohol, smoking and caffeine can hinder conception in both partners.
4. Encourage regular exercise.
Healthy amounts of moderate exercise - three to four times weekly - are beneficial.
5. Confront relationship issues.
Ensure you and your partner are both really ready to have a baby. The path to conception can be stressful and if the relationship is not strong, cracks may develop. The ability to support each other will be vital.
6. Get sorted financially
Having a baby is expensive. Can you both survive on only one income?
7. Consider private health insurance.
Do you want to be cared for by the private or public health system during the pregnancy and birth? If the answer is private then you will need to update your insurance to cover pregnancy. Be aware there is usually a 12-month waiting period for this to take effect.
8. Boost vitamin intake.
Folic acid is important in the prevention of spinal defects such as Spina Bifida developing in babies. All women contemplating pregnancy should start taking at least 500 micrograms of Folic Acid daily (at least a month prior to conception) and for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
9. Consume a nutritious diet.
Ensure you are eating three well-rounded meals a day. A healthy amount of body fat will help you conceive. Fresh fruit, vegetables and protein are at the top of list of healthy foods.
10. Know your body
Start keeping a menstrual calendar and ovulation chart. If you're trying to conceive then one of the most important things you can do is to know your menstrual cycle.
Most of all don't forget to relax, have fun and enjoy the ride!
Dr Julie Lukic MBBS FRANZCOG REI (McGill)
Infertility Specialist and Obstetrician