The best time to start preparing your body for a baby is before you stop your birth control, because, by the time you miss a period, your baby will have already begun to grow. But even if a pregnancy is unplanned, there are lots you can do to get in great shape.
If you have diabetes or any condition requiring medication, or if you suffer from mental health issues, don’t stop the medication without consultation. “Be guided by professionals,” says Dr Diana du Plessis, an independent midwifery consultant and researcher in Gauteng.
Quitting smoking should be a no-brainer, as should refraining from alcohol. These and other recreational drugs reduce your chances of conception and increase your risk of miscarriage, birth defects and a low-birth-weight for the baby. Also, restrict coffee to one cup a day and cut out drinks containing caffeine, says Du Plessis.
Being significantly overweight (body mass index of 30 or more) or underweight (18.5 or less) can affect your ability to fall pregnant and cause complications in pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Aim for a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 25. You can calculate this by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height squared in metres.