Before Baby - Week 1
By signing up to the “Before Baby” pre-pregnancy guide, you have made the first step in getting yourself into the best space mentally and physically, empowering you to conquer your fertility!
Fertility 101 – what you need to know
It’s the most ‘natural thing in the world’, but that doesn’t mean getting pregnant is always easy. Here, we bust some of the biggest myths and misconceptions about fertility.
- Myth - A woman’s age doesn’t impact fertility
No matter what you might have heard, age absolutely does have an impact on a woman’s fertility – in fact, it’s the single most important factor. Egg count and quality both decline as women get older, particularly after the age of 36. There’s also an increased risk of miscarriage and chromosomal variations through ageing – so that’s worth knowing.
- Myth - You can get pregnant at any point in your cycle
Here’s a fact that might blow your mind: women only have a 20 per cent chance of conceiving each month. The only time you can get pregnant are in the days leading up to ovulation – that’s before the egg is released from the ovary, not necessarily during ovulation itself. This means the sperm, which can fertilise for two to three days, are already waiting in the fallopian tubes when you ovulate. So to get pregnant, the best time to have sex is at least every two or three days during your pre-ovulation ‘fertile window’.
It’s not always easy to figure out when you’re ovulating. At-home ovulation tests (available from pharmacies) or apps can be useful, but if you need a bit more help we offer ovulation cycle tracking, blood tests to monitor your cycle as well as ovulation induction, a pill to bring on ovulation.
- Myth - Fertility issues are usually due to a problem on the woman’s side
In 35 per cent of cases, infertility is caused by female factors, but in an equal 35 per cent, the issue is on the man’s side. In another 20 per cent of cases, it’s due to a combination of factors on both sides, and the remaining 10 per cent is unexplained.
For men concerned about their fertility levels, it’s a good idea to get a semen analysis test to measure the number of sperm, their motility (ability to move), size and shape, volume and consistency.
- Myth - Men remain fertile into old age
There’s a common misconception that men can continue fathering children well into their 60s, 70s and even 80s, but the reality is that a man’s age does contribute to infertility. Sperm quality declines with age, and the chance of ‘sperm DNA damage’ increases – which can cause complications in both pregnancy and after birth. That means it’s important to start thinking about fertility early, rather than assuming age won’t be a factor in your family plans.
- Myth - You should ‘save up’ sperm so it becomes more potent
Ever heard someone say that a man should store up his sperm by limiting ejaculation? This is totally untrue. You actually need frequent ejaculation so that the best swimmers are continually ready to fertilise the egg, so it’s a good idea to ejaculate every two to three days to improve sperm health and increase motility.
Concerned about your fertility and want to chat to a specialist? We’ve got you covered.
Call 1800 111 483 to get the conversation started.
Your ‘Before Baby’ checklist
If you’re about to move from contraception to conception, there are a few key steps you can take which will not only boost your fertility but also ensure your lifestyle and health is prepped and ready to welcome a baby.
Visit your GP
An important step is to visit your GP for a pre-conception health check-up. This could include antenatal blood tests, including checks for rubella and chickenpox status, blood group and antibodies, Rh factor, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and a full blood count.
They’ll ensure that your cervical screening test is up to date and review any current medications and their implications for pregnancy. It’s also a good opportunity to re-connect and develop a positive relationship with your GP – they will often be your go-to source of support as you navigate this new chapter in your life!
Review your lifestyle to give fertility a boost
Wondering how to boost your chances? Regardless of what stage of the pre-pregnancy journey you’re at, it makes sense that you’d want to give your body the best chance of conception. Some simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. We recommend both you and your partner, if applicable, adopt these simple lifestyle strategies.
Did you know that smoking damages the DNA in eggs and sperm? This means that it may become more difficult and take longer to conceive if you or your partner smokes. Clear the air for your fertility and avoid smoking.
Do not take body-building steroids
Although testosterone is associated with enhanced “maleness” any use on anabolic can suppress sperm production. Do not do this if you are trying to have a family. Avoid recreational drugs, too. For both partners, recreational drugs can have a negative impact on natural fertility. For example, studies have shown that smoking cannabis can affect the sperm's swimming capacity.
Maintain a healthy weight with a balanced diet and exercise
Take the opportunity to check in with your body – because weight can impact fertility. This is because being significantly overweight or underweight can disrupt the hormones that regulate both ovulation and sperm production. The main goal here is to help your body be in the best possible health, rather than worrying about a number on a scale. Focus on eating right, with consistent exercise habits - this will ultimately improve your fertility as well as long-term physical and mental wellbeing.
Enjoy alcohol only in moderation
Having a glass of wine at the end of a long week may typically be your go-to, and that’s ok. If you’re trying to conceive, we recommend both partners stick within the safe drinking guidelines – no more than 2 standard drinks per day. And try prioritising some alcohol-free days per week. Once pregnancy is achieved, there is no safe amount of alcohol.
Start your folic acid engines
Folic acid is a form of the B vitamin folate, a crucial ingredient for growing a healthy baby. Start taking folic acid tablets at least one month before conception and continuing throughout your pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. You may also want to review other pre-pregnancy supplements with your GP.