When you first decide to start trying for a baby, it’s a good idea to start also thinking about your diet and your lifestyle as a whole – including what supplements to take pre pregnancy. Diet and nutrition can play a role in fertility but there are also some supplements you might need to start thinking about before you become pregnant.
Take a folic acid supplement when you begin trying for a baby
Current advice recommends that as soon as you start trying for a baby, it’s important to also start taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid and including folate rich foods into your diet. Folate rich foods include foods such as dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, fortified breakfast cereals, beans and legumes and bread.
This recommendation is in place due to the fact that early on in pregnancy a baby’s brain and spinal cord are formed and folic acid can help to ensure a baby’s spinal cord develops properly, and therefore reduce the risk of developing a condition such as spina bifida, in those early days.
A healthy pre-conception diet
You can help to make sure you’re topping up on other essential vitamins and minerals too by eating a balanced, healthy and varied diet and by ensuring you are including foods from all of the four main food groups: wholegrain starchy foods, fruits and vegetables, protein rich foods and dairy foods. It’s also important to try and eat 2 portions of fish each week, one of which should be oily fish, as well as focusing on plant-based sources of protein such as nuts, beans, lentils and pulses.
Other supplements to take when trying for a baby
However, on top of the recommendation for folic acid, there are other nutrients such as vitamin D and iodine that many of us in the UK don’t get enough of in a typical diet. Even if you’re eating an ‘ideal’ diet, it can still be difficult to get enough in the way of iodine and vitamin D from food alone. Therefore as a safe guard, it may be useful to take a pre-conception supplement which contains folic acid, vitamin D, iodine and a number of other useful vitamins and minerals. A pregnancy supplement or a pre-pregnancy supplement is fine as they will likely contain the right nutrients in the right amounts.
Make sure you’re not taking any other supplements at the same time and if you are, or if you are taking any medications, it’s best to seek advice from your GP before starting a pre-conception supplement. It’s also important to avoid any supplements containing vitamin A.