Female Fertility Explained: Why Preconception Food & Lifestyle Choices Really Matter

Sponsored by Queensland Fertility Group

Words by Samantha Brennan

Making small but important changes to your preconception lifestyle can boost your chances of falling pregnant.

Making small but important changes to your preconception lifestyle can boost your chances of falling pregnant.

While eating well and making responsible lifestyle choices are obviously incredibly important during pregnancy, you may believe that until that test reads positive, there’s not much point worrying about what you eat, how much alcohol you drink, how often you smoke, or whether you exercise. But the truth is, as soon as you decide you’d like to try for a baby, it’s time to get yourself into gear and start thinking about your health. Here’s what you need to know about how your preconception lifestyle can impact your plans to fall pregnant.

Good nutrition

Why should you worry about what you eat now – aren’t concerns about consuming too much fat or sugar and not eating enough vegies, just worries for women who are already pregnant? Not at all. A nutritious diet now will help support the healthy function of your reproductive system, prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy, and build up a store of the vitamins and minerals essential for the development of your unborn baby. In addition, being overweight can impact your chances of conceiving at all, as well as increase the risk of complications during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. If your pre-pregnancy weight is too low, you may be at risk of having a small baby.

Bad habits

There’s nothing wrong with most things in moderation: a cup of coffee or tea mid-morning, or a glass of wine with dinner, are simple yet special ways to reward ourselves. But when you’re thinking about falling pregnant, these treats need a revised place in your preconception diet. Caffeine (a stimulant in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, energy drinks and cocoa) can affect fertility and delay conception, so limit your intake to 100mg (about one cup of instant coffee or two cans of cola) per day. Alcohol also affects your chances of conceiving, so give up the tipple while trying to fall pregnant. (Any anecdotal evidence you may have that drinking leads to pregnancy has nothing to do with increased fertility, and everything to do with people having more sex!) Smoking affects fertility, too, by interfering with healthy egg production, so now’s the time to give it up altogether.

Better get moving

If you’re not a fan of exercise, perhaps a preconception health makeover will give you the motivation to add physical activity to your daily routine. It’ll help keep your hormones in check, relieve the stress of trying to fall pregnant, make you sleep better and give you more energy to get on with your day. It’s also a great idea to get into the habit of exercising before you conceive – it’s much easier to maintain an existing exercise regime during pregnancy, rather than start a new one, and it’ll help prepare your body for the physical demands of pregnancy, labour and parenting. But do note: too much exercise can negatively impact your fertility by causing irregular periods, so modify your physical activities, if necessary, so they’re regular and moderate.

Start sooner, rather than later

Experts suggest you start implementing these important lifestyle changes at least three months before you plan to start trying for a baby, to help improve your chances of conceiving by supporting your reproductive system, and give your baby the best possible start.

Read more about how eating and living well can boost your fertility here.

Queensland Fertility Group

Queensland Fertility Group (QFG) is Queensland’s largest group of fertility specialists, with more than 13 clinics reaching from Cairns to the Gold Coast. Boasting some of the highest fertility treatment success rates in Australia, QFG offers patients the full range of fertility investigation and treatment options from simple techniques, like ovulation timing, right through to artificial insemination and IVF. To learn more about the leading fertility specialists in your area or to locate your local QFG clinic, please visit www.qfg.com.au.