Planning for a Baby

Before you try for a baby there are some things to consider that can help improve your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy.

Pregnant or trying to get pregnant or find yourself with an unplanned pregnancy

If you are planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor, nurse or midwife – they will be able to advise you on pre-pregnancy and pregnancy health care.

In an ideal world all pregnancies would be planned to ensure that the mother and the father were in the best health before embarking on a pregnancy. Your chances of becoming pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy and baby are better if you and your partner are as fit and healthy as possible. What you eat, alcohol consumption, how much you exercise, and whether you smoke are all-important factors to look at once you have decided to try for a baby.

Summary and checklist

Most pregnancies go well and without any major problems. But it is wise to reduce any risks as much as possible. So, a reminder of things to consider before becoming pregnant, or as soon as you realise that you are pregnant…

Things you should do

  • Take folic acid tablets before you get pregnant until 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Have a blood test to check if you are immune against rubella, and to screen for hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Include foods rich in iron, calcium and folic acid.
  • Wash your hands after handling raw meat, or handling cats and kittens.
  • Wear gloves when you are gardening.

Things you should avoid

  • Too much vitamin A - don't eat liver or liver products, or take vitamin A tablets.
  • Listeriosis - don't eat undercooked meat or eggs, soft cheese, shellfish, raw fish, or unpasteurised milk.
  • Fish, which may contain a lot of mercury - shark, marlin, swordfish, or excess tuna.
  • Sheep, lambs, cat faeces, cat litters, and raw meat, which may carry certain infections.
  • Peanuts - if you have a personal or family history of eczema, hay fever, or asthma.

Things you should stop or cut down on

  • Caffeine in tea, coffee, cola, etc, - have no more than 300 mg per day. This is in about three cups of brewed coffee, or four cups of instant coffee, or six cups of tea.
  • Alcohol - you are strongly advised not to drink at all.
  • Smoking - you are strongly advised to stop completely.
  • Street drugs - you are strongly advised to stop completely.

Other things to consider

  • Immunisation against hepatitis B if you are at increased risk of getting this infection.
  • Immunisation against chickenpox if you are a healthcare worker and have not previously had chickenpox and so are not immune.
  • Your medication - including herbal and 'over the counter' medicines.
  • Your work environment - is it safe?
  • Medical conditions in yourself, or conditions that run in your family.


The Forth Valley Directory of Sexual Health Services provides details of local organisations offering free information and support about pregnancy:

Central Sexual Health Service Directory

Date Created: Mon December 2013

File size: 599.84 kb

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