10 Things To Do Before Getting Pregnant

  1. Ditch contraceptives
  2. Track your menstrual cycle
  3. Eat healthy
  4. Take folic acid
  5. Exercise in moderation
  6. Get a checkup
  7. Know your genetic history
  8. Make a ‘quit plan’
  9. Avoid environmental contaminants and toxic substances
  10. Mental health check

The decision to get pregnant can be exhilarating, or intimidating. There are just so many things to do to prepare for pregnancy and dealing with anxieties around fertility. Fret not, follow these 10 steps to better prepare you for this new chapter in your life.

1.Ditch contraceptives

Once you’ve decided to get pregnant, you should stop using your contraceptive method immediately to start trying to conceive. Depending on your method of contraception, you may be able to get pregnant right away or your body may need some time to readjust before being able to conceive.

2.Track your menstrual cycle

Timing is essential for a successful conception. Conception is only possible when intercourse takes place during a six-day window ending on the estimated day of ovulation[1]. However, the lengths of menstrual cycles can vary from woman to woman, and even change throughout a person’s lifetime due to changes in a woman’s hormonal balance. This can make it difficult to know when you’re ovulating, but there are ways you can find out and boost your chances for success.

3.Eating Healthy

Research has shown that diets high in unsaturated fats, whole grains, vegetables and fish have been associated with improved fertility in both women and men. Generally, you should focus on eating a well-balanced and wholesome diet and also ensuring that you consume adequate stores of critical nutrients like calcium, protein and iron. Hydration is also important so remember to drink plenty of water daily[2].

4.Take folic acid

Women who are trying to conceive are also advised to take prenatal folate and folic acid supplements  three months before conception. This is to ensure they have enough of this essential nutrient that aids in the development of the fetal brain and spinal cord, and also reducing the risk of birth defects[3. Typically, a woman seeking to conceive should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily and continue to do so up until her 12th week of pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend a higher dosage depending on medical and genetic histories[4].

5.Exercise in moderation

Regular exercise can help to balance hormones, improve insulin and reduce stress, all of which can help boost fertility[5]. One prospective study of over 17,000 women suggests that ovulatory infertility may be preventable through nutrition and exercise choices[6]. Additionally, women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are likely to have higher fat percentages and irregular cycles, may see a positive impact on ovulation[7] when they lose 5-10% of their body weight.  Do be careful not to overstrain yourself because excessive exercise can increase the risks of ovulatory problems[8].

6.Get a checkup

When trying to conceive, it’s important that you, your partner and your doctor are aware of any medical matters that may impact your chances of conceiving and carrying out a healthy pregnancy. Having a medical checkup will ensure that your doctor has the opportunity to discuss your medical history, update on recommended immunizations, advise on changes or adjustments to medications and address any questions or concerns you may have.

7.Know your genetic history

It is important to understand you and your partner’s family history. If you, your partner or any other close relatives have a history of birth defects or inherited medical conditions, you may have a higher chance of having a baby with the same challenges. If this is the case, your doctor may refer you to a genetic specialist to discuss screening options.

8.Make a ‘quit plan’

If you regularly consume substances like nicotine, alcohol or other illicit drugs, you should be making a quit plan to ensure that these habits do not detrimentally affect your fertility and baby. This may also be relevant to parents who consume large amounts of caffeine as it can inhibit the blood supply to the fetus and affect its growth[9]. If you think you’ll struggle with breaking the habit, you can always find help and resources from addiction counselors, support groups and other treatment programs. 

9.Avoid environmental contaminants and toxic substances

Harmful chemicals, environmental contaminants and other toxic substances such as synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray and animal feces around the home can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women,  making it more difficult to get pregnant. Even small amounts of exposure can lead to diseases during pregnancy, infancy, childhood and puberty[10]. It is extremely important for you to try to minimize and/or eliminate exposure to these substances whenever possible.

10.Mental health matters

Some studies have suggested that mental conditions like depression or high levels of stress can impact fertility[11]. The pressure of conceiving can contribute to your perceived stress and the hormonal shifts of pregnancy can also cause mental health challenges[12]. For these reasons, it’s important that you take care of your mental health, have access to mental health resources and ensure that you have a good support system to help you navigate through these challenges.

After carefully considering each step, you should be ready for your next phase in life. Remember, before starting your pregnancy journey, it’s important to understand and listen to your body. If you are looking for more information regarding your fertility, have any questions or concerns, try checking your fertility status  by answering these multiple choice questions.

The truth is always more liberating than the stories you make up in your head, so speak to your healthcare provider (there are many fertility specialists and fertility clinics to choose from in Malaysia and Singapore) sooner rather than later.


[1] Wilcox, A. J., Weinberg, C. R., & Baird, D. D. (1995). Timing of Sexual Intercourse in Relation to Ovulation — Effects on the Probability of Conception, Survival of the Pregnancy, and Sex of the Baby. New England Journal of Medicine, 333(23), 1517–1521. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejm199512073332301

[2] Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients. (2022, February 18). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20045082

[3] Ibid.

[4] NHS website. (2021, December 1). Planning your pregnancy. Nhs.Uk. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/trying-for-a-baby/planning-your-pregnancy/

[5] Ennour-Idrissi, K., Maunsell, E., & Diorio, C. (2015). Effect of physical activity on sex hormones in women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Breast Cancer Research, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13058-015-0647-3; de Salles, B. F., Simão, R., Fleck, S. J., Dias, I., Kraemer-Aguiar, L. G., & Bouskela, E. (2010). Effects of Resistance Training on Cytokines. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 31(07), 441–450. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0030-1251994;  Basso, J. C., & Suzuki, W. A. (2017). The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review. Brain Plasticity, 2(2), 127–152. https://doi.org/10.3233/bpl-160040.

[6] Basso, J. C., & Suzuki, W. A. (2017). The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review. Brain Plasticity, 2(2), 127–152. https://doi.org/10.3233/bpl-160040

[7] Sunita M.C. De Sousa, Robert J. Norman, (2017)Metabolic syndrome, diet and exercise, Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 37, 140-151.

[8] Hakimi, O., & Cameron, L. C. (2016). Effect of Exercise on Ovulation: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine, 47(8), 1555–1567. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0669-8

[9] Committee Opinion No. 462: Moderate Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy. (2010). Obstetrics & Gynecology, 116(2), 467–468. https://doi.org/10.1097/aog.0b013e3181eeb2a1

[10] Planning for Pregnancy | Preconception Care | CDC. (2021, November 15). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/preconception/planning.html

[11] Park, J., Stanford, J. B., Porucznik, C. A., Christensen, K., & Schliep, K. C. (2019). Daily perceived stress and time to pregnancy: A prospective cohort study of women trying to conceive. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 110, 104446. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.104446

[12] Palomba, S., Daolio, J., Romeo, S., Battaglia, F. A., Marci, R., & La Sala, G. B. (2018). Lifestyle and fertility: the influence of stress and quality of life on female fertility. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12958-018-0434-y


SG-NONF-00260 | 12 June 2023 

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