Planning for Pregnancy

Trying to conceive can be an exciting as it is stressful. With so many influencing factors, our experts recommend that you take some proactive steps in planning your whole body preparation – both emotional and physical well-being play a part in your fertility health.

Fit for Fertility. Framing your mindset and body for conception. We recommend that having a consultation with your doctor or gynaecologist for a health check is a beginning point in framing your mind and physical health in your decision-making to try for a baby.

As part of the health check, it’s important to include:

  • Up-to-date pap smear and cervical screening test
  • breast check & screening
  • blood pressure
  • weight screening
  • blood tests
  • lifestyle advice

Planning for pregnancy takes-two! Your partner will require a health check as well.

Up to date Vaccinations

Ensure that both you and your partner have vaccinations for infectious diseases and sexually transmitted infections including:

  • immunity to rubella and chickenpox – some infectious diseases can affect your baby’s development.
  • sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This minimises the risk of STIs affecting your fertility. It also means you’re less likely to pass on an infection to each other or to your baby.
Preparing for pregnancy

Fertility health assessment and check-up

Simply, checking your fertility health sooner than later can pay dividends to future chances of conception. We help you take charge of your fertility and offer a proactive step in the journey with the Fertility Health Check Up. We recommend booking an appointment with one of the Bali Fertility Centre specialists to complete this assessment. Based on your medical history and individual circumstances, your specialist may recommend a series of tests.

For women, these tests may include:

  • a blood test on day two-five of your menses cycle to assess your fertility. This specific test will measure your hormone levels -Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and Prolactin.
  • an antenatal blood test. This test measures your blood group, full blood count and immunity to rubella (German measles) and varicella (chickenpox). It also screens for thalassemia and STIs including VDRL (syphilis), HIV, Hep B and Hep C
  • an up-to-date cervical screening test
  • preconception genetic carrier screening
  • an AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) blood test to measure your ovarian reserve
  • a pelvic ultrasound (in the early follicular stage of your cycle)

For more complex cases, a patient may require a specialised pelvic ultrasound – such as a HyCoSy (used to examine the fallopian tubes and other pelvic organs) or a Sonohysterogram (a study of the uterus)

For men, a fertility health check may include tests for:

  • a blood test to assess male hormones
  • a blood test to screen for STIs including HIV, Hep C and Hep B
  • preconception genetic carrier screening
  • a semen analysis to check for sperm quality and possible infections

An additional semen analyses may be necessary if abnormal semen results. Abnormal semen includes indication for low sperm count, poor motility (sperm movement) and poor morphology (sperm shape).

What you can do to prepare your body for pregnancy

Your specialist will recommend taking the supplement, Folic Acid, 400-500 mcg of folic acid daily when trying for a baby, and for the first three months of pregnancy. Research shows that folic acid helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTD) in babies.

Certain women may require a different dose. If you have a family history of NTDs, type 1 or type 2 diabetes or a body mass index (BMI) over 30, talk to your doctory/gynaecologiest or fertility specialist about the best dose for you.

Practicing good diet. Eating healthily impacts your baby’s health too. Research shows that women with a healthy diet before conception are less likely to have a baby with birth defects.

It’s best to eat a wide variety of quality foods. A colourful plate of:

  • a range of fruit and vegetables
  • good quality protein like lean meat, fish, eggs, beans and lentils
  • complex carbohydrates from peas, beans, whole grains and vegetables
  • plenty of calcium (choose low-fat dairy products)

Try your spicy and fragrant herbs and chilies to add extra flavor.

Try to avoid:

  • eating fish with high mercury like mackerel, shark, swordfish and some tuna
  • additives, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives found in packaged snacks
  • a high-fat diet. Include healthy fats like those found in olive oil, avocado and nuts.

Being in a healthy weight range really helps when you’re trying for a baby. If you’re severely overweight or underweight, it can affect your chances of falling pregnant. It can also put you and your baby at risk during pregnancy.

Here’s how:

  • obesity in women can reduce fertility by causing hormonal changes.
  • women who are underweight can also experience hormonal imbalances that reduce their fertility. They’re more than twice as likely to take over a year to fall pregnant.
  • in men, obesity can cause hormonal problems or sexual dysfunction. This can lead to infertility.

Calculating your BMI is a great way to measure if you’re overweight or underweight. [Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms (or pounds) divided by the square of height in meters (or feet)]

But if your BMI is higher than it should be, don’t panic! The good news is you can boost your fertility by losing weight with healthy eating and regular exercise. You don’t need to become a superhero–maintaining moderate exercise and modest weight loss improves your chances of conceiving. Same goes for males too, so ask them to read this if they need convincing!

If you’re concerned about your weight, we suggest speaking to your doctor. Together, you can formulate a plan for weight management.

There’s nothing positive to say about smoking. Please stop smoking. It’s bad for your health, and terrible for your fertility.

Smoking and fertility facts:

  • smokers are more likely than non-smokers to be infertile
  • cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals harmful to the reproductive organs
  • smoking can cause erectile dysfunction
  • smoking can increase DNA damage to eggs and sperm
  • there’s a link between heavy smoking in males and childhood cancer

The effects of smoking on fertility can be reversed. Quitting smoking increases your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.

For women trying to conceive ad get pregnant – and especially those who are pregnant—should stop drinking alcohol. There’s no agreed safe level of alcohol intake, so it’s best to stop drinking altogether.

In men, alcohol can cause impotence and damage sperm quality. We suggest men stick to ‘safe drinking guidelines’ when they’re trying for a baby. These guidelines recommend an average of two drinks per day maximum, with several alcohol-free days each week and no more than four standard drinks in any one session

There’s no clear evidence that caffeine affects fertility. However, some studies show that large amounts of caffeine make it harder to conceive and lead to a higher risk of miscarriage. So we recommend limiting your caffeine intake when you’re trying to get pregnant.

Please take note that caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, some soft drinks and chocolate.

Men and women should aim for less than 200mg of caffeine a day. This equates to about one-two coffees or two-three cups of tea. If you need to reduce your caffeine intake, we suggest doing it slowly to minimise your withdrawal symptoms.

A healthy weight range improves your chances of having a baby. And exercise is a great way to manage your weight.

Remember, even modest weight loss can improve general health and fertility. And what better motivator than trying for a baby?

Tips to increase your activity:

  • any exercise is better than none
  • try to be active most days (preferably all)
  • set your alarm 1 hour early a couple times a week and go for a morning stroll
  • go for a quick walk to break up times when you have to sit down for long periods

While Zika virus can adversely affect both foetuses and adults, data involving its transmission and infectivity is changing daily. As our understanding of Zika virus changes rapidly, it’s important to remember that guidelines published today may not be accurate tomorrow. Please refer to the CDC Zika website for the most updated information.