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Make sure you’re eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, which are excellent sources of antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C, and beta-carotene, which help protect against cell damage and are important for long term health.
These are a rich source of Folic Acid, so make sure you include plenty of this important vitamin within your diet whilst trying to conceive. Remember, diet alone is unlikely to provide the level of Folic Acid you need and you will also need to take a 400mcg supplement every day. It’s worth remembering that vitamins are easily lost in cooking, so short cooking times, steaming, stir-frying or microwaving are preferable to boiling.
Milk and dairy products are packed with useful vitamins like B2, B12 and D, as well as minerals like calcium, zinc and magnesium. Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for healthy bone development, whilst B vitamins helps maintain the normal functions of the muscular and nervous systems.
Food such as meat, fish and eggs are rich in protein which is essential for growth and tissue development and meat is also a good source of iron which is needed to make red blood cells and can help to reduce the risk of pregnancy related anaemia.
Fish is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for brain development, so try to include 1 or 2 portions a week.
Everyone’s heard about the odd cravings which pregnant women can have, and most will do you absolutely no harm at all. But there are one or two things which it is better to avoid.
These include soft, unpasteurised cheeses, raw or lightly cooked eggs, or ready-prepared meals which haven’t been thoroughly cooked or reheated, as they can harbour dangerous bacteria.
Liver and liver products like pâté are best avoided too as they often contain a high level of Vitamin A. It is best to avoid these foods during pregnancy.
If you are a smoker then this is the time to make a real effort to kick the habit. Research shows that smoking during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight babies and may have other harmful effects. It’s worth giving up for your baby’s health.
If possible, both you and your husband should avoid alcohol while you are trying to become pregnant and you should try to avoid it during the first three months of the pregnancy and ideally until after the baby is born.
If you or your partner have a family history of Spina Bifida or if you have epilepsy, diabetes or celiac disease you must talk to your doctor before trying for a baby as you may need to take a much higher dose of Folic Acid which you can only get on prescription.