March 2023

What to avoid when planning a pregnancy

If you have visited the doctor for your preconception checkup you may already be aware that you need to become your healthiest self yet in order to conceive, experience a carefree pregnancy, and give birth to a healthy baby. The doctor most probably has prescribed some multivitamins, folic acid and magnesium to supplement your diet. However, there are other factors you may have to consider as well. [1]


planning a pregnancy


Substances and habits to stay away from  

Smoking - This is first on the list as active smoking has been linked to failure to get pregnant, damage to the ovaries and eggs resulting in prolonged time to conceive and earlier menopause, as well as ectopic pregnancy. Moreover, smoking increases the risk of miscarriage especially to women who have conceived through an in vitro fertilization. [2] If you are smoking it’s recommended that you stop several months before starting to try to conceive. 

Alcohol - Drinking can affect your hormones responsible for ovulation which can prevent you from conceiving. Additionally, alcohol is very detrimental for the baby during pregnancy. It can cause serious problems such as congenital disorders or premature birth. 

Toxic substances - All known toxines, pesticides, heavy metals, radiation are dangerous for our health at any period of life, but especially during preconception and pregnancy. They can have an extremely adverse effect on your ability to conceive and carry a healthy fetus to birth. What is more, some of these are used in the household, therefore you should be aware which ones to stay away from.[3]

Certain medications - The range of medications that can prevent you from getting pregnant is quite wide and can vary from drugs treating your acne to blood-thinners, antibiotics and antidepressants. The best way to make sure you are not taking anything dangerous on this list is to consult with your physician. They can prescribe a safe option for you to use during this period. [4]

Caffeine - You do not need to completely stop drinking coffee, but be conscious about the quantities you consume. Doctors advise women who are trying to get pregnant to limit their daily uptake of coffee to 500 ml. (2 cups) or 2 l. of caffeinated fizzy drinks. Anything over these amounts can result in difficulties conceiving or increased chances of a miscarriage. 

Sedentariness - Having a sedentary lifestyle can be an obstacle preventing you from conceiving as it could lead to overweight, obesity, and other health problems. Today experts recommend regular exercising as it has a positive effect on preconception and pregnancy. [5] Physical activity helps to manage and reduce stress levels as well.

When to start inquiring about infertility

You are in great shape, you have been off the birth control medications and you have been trying to conceive for six months to a year but you haven’t had any success. This can be very frustrating especially if you do not have any physical discomfort, complaints or no known medical reasons for infertility. It is a good idea to start discussing the subject with your partner and your doctor sooner, rather than later. There are many causes for infertility in females as well as in males but you will not know before you get the healthcare you need.




[1]Dennis, C., Brennenstuhl, S., Brown, H. K., Bell, R. C., Marini, F., & Birken, C. S. (2022). High-risk health behaviours of pregnancy-planning women and men: Is there a need for preconception care? Midwifery, 106, 103244.
[2]Bakuniene-Milanowski, A. (2022, October 6). How Stopping Smoking Boosts Your Fertility Naturally. Cleveland Clinic.
[3]Healthdirect Australia. (n.d.). Toxic household products to avoid during pregnancy. Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
[4]Kaput, K. (2023, January 19). How To Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy. Cleveland Clinic.
[5]Harrison, C. L., Brown, W. J., Hayman, M., Moran, L. J., & Redman, L. M. (2016). The Role of Physical Activity in Preconception, Pregnancy and Postpartum Health. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine, 34(02), e28–e37.