Deciding to start or expand your family is an exciting time. Some people have lots of time to plan to have a baby, others have very little.
Preparing for pregnancy can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions and a seemingly endless list of to-dos. That’s why we created the ultimate pre-pregnancy checklist – an easy, evidence-based roadmap that sets you up for success.
Our experts have put together their top tips on staying positive during pregnancy setbacks, expose fertility myths and suggest when you should seek help if falling pregnant is taking longer than you expected.
If you’re thinking about having a baby, a visit to your trusted general practitioner (GP) is an important first step.
How does age affect my fertility?
If you are over 35 and finding it difficult to conceive, it can be overwhelming and put a strain on your relationship. Your GP can refer you to fertility specialists and support services to help you and your partner during this challenging time. Knowing when to seek additional support is important.
For women under 35 who haven’t conceived after 12 months of trying, you may want to investigate possible causes with your GP. For women over 35, it’s recommended that you seek medical advice after six months of trying to conceive.
It’s important to consider both men’s and women’s fertility when it comes to healthy conception.
The older you get, the harder it is to get pregnant naturally. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have and they age as you do. The chances of falling pregnant are highest for women under 35, but every woman’s journey is different. It’s important to consider that by the age of 40, a woman’s chance of getting pregnant drops around five per cent each month. Talk to your GP about age-related fertility options, such as assisted reproductive treatments like IVF (in-vitro fertilisation).
Men’s fertility plays a big role in conception too. The quality of a man’s sperm starts to slide around 40 to 45 years of age, reducing the chance of conceiving – and having a healthy baby. Male infertility may also be due to other issues and your GP can advise you on options for testing, if you need it.
GP health check
Your GP is the best place to start with a health check and discussion about your plans for parenthood. Your GP visit can cover off:
- your general health including weight, blood pressure and any cervical issues
- family medical history and whether this could impact your ability to have a healthy baby
- any vaccinations you should have before conceiving
- genetic carrier screening to check if you or your partner carry genes that could cause health problems for your baby
- any lifestyle issues or health problems you or your partner may wish to seek help with before starting your family
- any environmental factors that may pose a risk during pregnancy.
Medicines and medical conditions
Before you get pregnant, talk to your GP about any medications you are taking. Your GP can tell you how these may affect you and your baby during pregnancy and devise a safe treatment plan.
Dental healthTry and have your teeth and gums checked before you conceive. Dental treatment before pregnancy can reduce the risk of premature birth and pregnant women are advised not to have X-rays, where possible.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)Ideally, any STIs should be treated before pregnancy. You can discuss tests and treatments with your doctor.
Mental healthIf you have a diagnosed mental health condition, discuss your pregnancy plans with your medical team, who can help support you. Some expectant parents find that pre-existing mental health conditions can be magnified during pregnancy and with a newborn. Epworth has mental health experts who can support you and we also recommend contacting organisations like PANDA and Beyond Blue.