Welcome to #ReadyforPregnancy

There is a clear link between a mother’s health before pregnancy, the risks she is exposed to or exposes herself to, and her baby’s health. We know that healthy women and men have fewer complications in pregnancy are more likely to have healthy babies who grow into healthy children. Partners also have a role to play by staying healthy too.

#ReadyforPregnancy is here to support you if you are thinking about a pregnancy and looking for information about how to prepare and be in the best shape possible for your health and your baby’s health.

What is #ReadyforPregnancy about?

We’ll be posting on different topics each month to help you and your baby get off to the best possible start before and during your pregnancy.

What are the most important things to help you get #ReadyforPregnancy?

  1. Take regular exercise

If you're not used to exercising, or haven't done any for a while, now is a good time to start. Try starting off with 10 minutes of daily activity. You can then build up to 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

Find out more with:

  1. Eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight

Eating a healthy, nutritious diet is especially important if you're planning a pregnancy. Your baby relies on you to provide the right balance of nutrients to help them grow and develop properly (even after they're born).

By aiming for a healthy weight, you increase your chances of conceiving naturally and having a healthy pregnancy and baby.

  1. Stop smoking (important for both you and your partner)

Quitting smoking is the most important thing you and your partner can do to give your baby the best start in life. Men who smoke can suffer from reduced quality sperm and erection difficulties. If you are planning a pregnancy or already expecting talk to your GP, midwife or local stop smoking service about the support available to quit.

Links to Local Stop Smoking Services

  1. Take folic acid to prepare for your pregnancy

It’s recommended that all women who could get pregnant should take a daily supplement of folic acid. You should take a 400-microgram supplement of folic acid every day before you get pregnant, and every day afterwards, up until you’re 12 weeks pregnant. Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. Speak to your local pharmacist or GP for the best time to start. If you are eligible for Healthy Start vitamins, they contain vitamin D. To find out more visit Healthy Start

Look after your mental health

It is not unusual to experience depression, low mood or anxiety alongside physical changes during pregnancy and after birth. Here are a few simple ways to help manage these feelings:

  • Talk to your friends and family - be open about how you are feeling
  • Do some gentle moving - such as walking
  • Look after yourself - accept help from family and friends
  • Try to connect with others. Meet other expectant and new parents by downloading the MUSH app.

A range of support, help and advice is available to women and their families throughout pregnancy and after birth. Speak to your GP or healthcare professional if you want to discuss or are concerned about your mental health.

If you've got a mental health condition and are planning to have a baby, discuss your plans with your GP or psychiatrist. Your doctor can discuss with you:

  • your medicine
  • how pregnancy might affect your mental health
  • how your mental health might affect your pregnancy
  • the care you can expect

This is called pre-pregnancy or pre-conception counselling and can help you and your doctor plan for the healthiest start for you and your baby. You can also find more information and support online at Tommy's Pregnancy Hub.

  1. Cut out alcohol

Many women ask how much is safe to drink during pregnancy. The safest approach is not to drink at all. If you do drink you should avoid getting drunk and try to limit alcohol to the occasional drink and not more than one or two units once or twice a week. Alcohol can damage sperm production, so men should cut down on drinking too. To check if your drinking might be risky visit the DrinkCoach website.

For local advice and support on reducing alcohol in Oxfordshire, follow this link: Turning Point

  1. Helping your fertility

By aiming for a healthy weight, you increase your chances of conceiving naturally and reduce the chance of problems associated with being overweight in pregnancy. Stopping smoking reduces the risk of impotence and infertility in men: men who smoke can suffer from reduced quality sperm and erection difficulties

  1. Check your vaccinations are up to date

It is recommended you have a whooping cough booster and flu vaccination during pregnancy.

Some infections, such as rubella (German measles), can harm your baby if you catch them during pregnancy. The Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR) will protect you and your baby. If you have not been vaccinated or are unsure whether you have been vaccinated, call your GP to see whether they have a record. If you have no record, of receiving them, make an appointment to get vaccinated. For more information about Rubella and the MMR vaccination visit the NHS website.

  1. Learn more about breastfeeding

The NHS Website advises that it is never too early to start thinking about how you're going to feed your baby. But you do not have to make up your mind until your baby is born.

Some of the benefits from breastfeeding are:

  • your breast milk is designed for your baby
  • breast milk protects your baby from infections and diseases
  • breastfeeding provides health benefits for you
  • breast milk is available for your baby whenever your baby needs it
  • breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby

Find out more about breastfeeding from  The Baby Friendly Initiative from Unicef.

  1. Learn more about pregnancy, birth and parenting  

There are lots of antenatal classes and online resources where you can learn more about pregnancy, birth and parenting. Find out more about what is available in your area for when you become pregnant.

  1. Do you have an existing health condition such as diabetes and want to get #ReadyforPregnancy?

Talk with your GP about your plans to make sure you’re as healthy as you can be before starting your pregnancy.

Ready for Pregnancy Translated Booklets

The Ready for Pregnancy booklets are now available in 10 different languages:

Ready for Pregnancy Easy Read Booklet and British Sign Language film

Where to find more information

There's more support on how to be #ReadyforPregnancy from:

The NHS website

NHS Pregnancy Journey

Start for life

FPA (The Family Planning Association)

Tommy’s (Pregnancy health information)