Dr. Husnia Gargash Fertility, Gynecology and Obstetrics Center
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Are You Planning for Baby?

Healthy lifestyle choices are essential for both men and women in providing the best start for your baby. Three most important thinks you should consider about your health before planning for a pregnancy are maintenance of appropriate weight, quit smoking and abstaining from alcohol intake.

Care of Health before Pregnancy

The following guide to pre-pregnancy health will help you prepare your mind & body for a pregnancy.

Pre Pregnancy Gynecological Evaluation

A visit to your Gynecologist while planning a pregnancy is a good idea to check your status to infectious diseases, which can have deleterious impact on the development of the fetus during pregnancy. These notorious infections include rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Your Gynecologist may also check yours and your partner’s blood group, Rh factor. Taking a Pap smear to rule out any cervical abnormalities is also a wise idea before planning for a pregnancy.

It is good to discuss your health concerns and also regarding your past illnesses including any regular medications for the illness. Some health problems should be completely under control, some other problems needs change of medication and still some other problems need further evaluation from concerned specialists and fitness from that particular specialist before you attempt for a pregnancy to optimize the success of pregnancy and well being of both mother and fetus.

Dietary Supplements

Most important medication, rather a dietary medicinal supplement is taking folic acid tablet. Usual recommended dose of folic acid in the pre pregnancy period is 0.5 mg per day. If either of the partners has a family history of a baby with any congenital problems which can be prevented by higher dose replacement of folic acid, the dose should be increased to 4.0 mg per day. Usually higher dose folic acid tablets are available in the dose of 5.0 mg which can also be taken instead of 4.0 mg tablets if they are not available in the market. All these medical food supplements should be started at least 3 months before trying for pregnancy to have desired effect. Folic acid tablets should continued after pregnancy for a minimum of initial 3 months. 

There is increasing evidence that male partners especially those who smoke can have damage of the sperm caused by toxic substance liberated from the smoke which in turn can cause fertility problems. Antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C and Vitamin E can reduce the toxic injury is a promising option for male partners before trying for conception. But most important will be quitting from smoking which also will help during pregnancy for the baby to have a normal growth. If we go through the latest literature reviews, it is shown that babies of mothers and fathers who smoke have a higher chance of getting reduced fetal growth. 

Balanced Diet

Maintaining a balanced diet is important for your overall health in the preparation for pregnancy. Including an adequate intake of leafy green vegetables with high folic acid content is always encouraged. Always take care to avoid junk food during your planning and during pregnancy. 

Management of Weight

Desirable optimum weight has got a long term impact on your healthy life as well as on your chance of getting pregnancy and also for the best outcome of your pregnancy also. Maintenance of desirable weight is not only important for your preconceptional period but for your long term heath also. It is shown that excess weight can cause disturbances in the ovulation from the female side and can also have negative impact on semen parameters on the partners side. Evidence says that 5% reduction in the body weight can improve your chance for getting a pregnancy. If the patient is obese and overweight there can be other associated heath problems like Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, and other endocrinological (Hormonal) problems which may need further evaluation. But also it is very important that associated medical complications and excess weight will definitely have a negative impact on your pregnancy outcome. Pregnancy associated complications are more common among obese and overweight women compared to normal women.


Is it safe for me to exercise during pregnancy? Check with your doctor to make sure that it's safe for you to exercise during your pregnancy. Although some questions have been asked about the effects of exercise on pregnant women, there is no proof that gentle exercise has any bad effects on pregnancy. Studies haven't shown any benefits for the baby, but exercise might help you feel better and maintain your weight. Exercise can help ease or prevent discomfort during pregnancy. It can also give you extra energy and prepares your body for labor by increasing your stamina and muscle strength. If you have no serious medical problems and you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, it's probably safe for you to do some exercising.

How should I start an exercise program?

It's best to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. You may have a medical condition that would make exercise harmful to you or your baby. If your doctor approves, you can start exercising at a level that does not cause pain, shortness of breath or excessive tiredness. You may then slowly increase your activity. If you feel uncomfortable, short of breath or very tired, you should reduce your exercise level. If you have already been exercising, it's easier to keep exercising during pregnancy. If you haven't exercised before, you need to start very slowly. Many women find that they need to slow down their level of exercise during pregnancy. 

What types of exercise are best when I'm pregnant?

The most comfortable exercises are those that don't require your body to bear extra weight. Swimming and stationary cycling are good options. Walking and low-impact aerobics are usually well-tolerated. You and your doctor will need to decide what's best for you and your baby.

What should I be careful about?

Avoid activities that increase your risk of falls or injury, such as contact sports or vigorous sports. Even mild injuries to the stomach area can be serious when you're pregnant. After the first 3 months of pregnancy, it's best to avoid exercising while lying on your back, since the weight of the baby may interfere with blood circulation. 

Also avoid long periods of standing. When the weather is hot, exercise in the early morning or late evening to help prevent you from getting overheated and exhausted. If you're exercising indoors, make sure the room has enough ventilation. Consider using a fan to help keep yourself cool. 

Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty especially after having exercise. Make sure that you're eating a well-balanced diet. Normally, pregnancy increases your food requirements by 300 calories a day, even without exercise. So those who exercise should really have to plan their diet according to the calorie requirement. 

What problems should I tell my doctor about?

Listen to your body.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

- Blood or fluid coming from your vagina

- Sudden or severe abdominal or vaginal pain

- Contractions that go on for 30 minutes after you stop exercising

- Chest pain

- Shortness of breath

- Headache that is severe or won't go away

- Dizziness and nausea

- Dim or blurry vision


It is clear that active and passive smoking has a detrimental effect on a person’s health and can compromise the ability to have children for both men and women.

Women who smoke tend to reach the menopause earlier than non-smokers. Even for a fertile couple, it has been shown that women who smoke heavily will take longer on average, to achieve a pregnancy than non-smokers. There is also strong evidence that female smokers not only have reduced fertility but also have a higher miscarriage rate.

It is recommended that you not smoke during treatment or throughout pregnancy. 

Smoking during pregnancy has adverse effects on the growing baby and can contribute to many childhood illnesses. There is also strong evidence that a child born to a male smoker is four times more likely to develop cancer in childhood. 


In general, it is recommended no more than two standard drinks per day for women and four for men, with at least two alcohol-free days per week. The specific impact of alcohol on a woman’s reproductive system is unknown, however heavy intake in men is known to deleteriously affect sperm production and sperm motility with decreased fertilizing capacity of sperm.

For couples trying to conceive, it is recommended to stick to a moderate level of alcohol consumption, and to be mindful of reducing alcohol intake throughout the second half of the menstrual cycle where pregnancy could be a possibility, and in the weeks following a positive pregnancy test, as this is an important stage of development for the baby. Abstinence of alcohol throughout pregnancy is desirable. Though it is rare, even low levels of alcohol intake can affect the fetus and can cause fetal alcohol syndrome.
It is recommended that you not smoke during treatment or throughout pregnancy. 


High caffeine intake has been linked with female infertility in some of the studies in the literature, but the reason for this is not clear & well established. But it is worth considering a moderate coffee intake if you are trying to get pregnant with no more than two cups per day if you are planning for a pregnancy. Remember that caffeine is present in other beverages and food, such as Cola drinks also apart from coffee.