Habits and advice

It’s important to realize that the pregnancy is a natural process with usually a good outcome for both mother and child. This advice is only meant to encourage healthy habits.

For more information about conception we’d like to refer you to www.strakszwangerworden.nl.

You can also choose to fill out the pregnancy chart on www.zwangerwijzer.nl. You’ll be asked questions about your health and habits, as well as your partner’s. Based on these answers a “risk profile” will be generated which will include information about these specific topics.

If you have a question about your risk profile or if you’d like to know more about habits and conceiving? Feel free to join us at a conception consultation hour.

Alcohol can affect the fertility of both female and male. Moreover, the risk of miscarriage is increased when alcohol is frequently consumed by both (future) parents. Because it’s hard to indicate a safe lower limit, it’s advisable to both not consume any alcohol whatsoever in the period that you’re trying to conceive.

The male should not drink in the period that you’re trying to conceive until a pregnancy has been indicated. As soon as the woman has conceived, the male’s alcohol consumption will no longer affect the pregnancy. For the woman, it’s best not to drink no alcohol whatsoever throughout the entire cycle. If you do get your period again, it’s fine to have a drink during that week, for instance if there’s a party. But know that this can still affect your fertility. For more information, click here.

If you have a condition requiring specialist or prolonged treatment (e.g. diabetes, kidney disease or heart failure), it’s advisable to discuss your wish to become parents with your physician. It may be advised to adjust the current treatment.

Just like smoking and alcohol, the use of drugs is discouraged if you want to conceive. There are several types of drugs that involve different risks. In general, drugs can cause reduced fertility in both males and females, it can cause child abnormalities and problems in the pregnancy. The harmful effects can be very significant. For help with discontinuing drug use, please refer to your GP. For more information click here.

Folic acid is a vitamin that naturally occurs in our diet. It’s appeared that when women take a higher dose of folic acid before and during the pregnancy, the chance of congenital abnormalities such as spina bifida, bladder exstrophy and cleft lip are reduced. Pregnant women are recommended to take 0.4 mg of folic acid per day, starting four weeks before conception until the 10th week of the pregnancy. Folic acid is available over the counter (without prescription) at the pharmacy or drugstore. For more information, click here.

If you want to get pregnant, you should be mindful of medication. Medicines can be harmful to an unborn child.  If you use medication on a daily basis, consult the physician who prescribes the medication, who can tell you what to do when you want to get pregnant. This also applies to over the counter medication.

Women who are overweight have reduced fertility and increased risk of problems during pregnancy (for example, a miscarriage, high blood pressure, high birth weight of the child and a higher chance of requiring a cesarean section). Weight loss is discouraged during pregnancy, so it’s advisable to lose weight before conceiving. Consult with a dietician for guidance. For more information click here.

Smoking causes decreased fertility in both men and women. It causes women to reach menopause early as smoking affects the quality of the egg cells. Nicotine inhibits the production of the sex hormones and, consequently, the maturation of the egg cell. The more you smoke, the more your fertility opportunities decrease.

Men who smoke produce a poorer quality sperm than non-smoking men. The smoking male produces fewer sperm cells and less semen. Moreover, the sperm cells have an aberrant shape. Smoking can also cause invisible damage to the DNA in the sperm. If a man stops smoking it takes about three months before all harmful effects have disappeared. For more information click here.

Harmful substances at work (for example, certain types of paint, lead and mercury) can lead to infertility, miscarriage and congenital abnormalities. An employer is required to explain to employees how to handle these substances safely and how to take protective measures. In case of doubt and questions, contact your occupational health doctor. For more information click here.

A balanced diet is important for the health of mother and child. A deficit of certain nutrients can increase the risk of birth defects. The Voedingscentrum (Nutrition Center) provides information about good and safe food and the so-called Schijf van Vijf (Disk of Five). For more information click here.