There are lots of things to think about when you are planning to start a family. Taking steps to improve your physical and mental health is a good starting point and can increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy.
There are several things that mums- and dads-to-be need to consider. You might need to think about stopping smoking, cutting back on your alcohol use, eating a healthier diet or increasing your physical activity. If you are considering becoming pregnant you should also consider starting to take folic acid supplements.
You may have a long-term health condition like diabetes or are taking medication for something and don’t know if it’s safe to take during pregnancy, so please speak to your GP and get some advice about any changes you should be making.
Take a look at the NHS website for more information
Living with mental health struggles and issues doesn’t necessarily mean that your mental health will suffer more during the perinatal period. However, because of all the physical and hormonal changes during this time, some people may become unwell again.
Everyone’s journey is different but please speak to a GP if you have a mental health condition, to talk about the support and advice you might need.
** Don’t stop taking any medication for your mental health condition
without speaking to your GP, mental health team, midwife or health visitor **
Tommy’s has an excellent online information and support hub for anyone with severe mental illness planning a pregnancy. The resources can help you make informed decisions around your mental health and planning a pregnancy.
There are an increasing number of LGBTQ+ people becoming parents. For helpful further information about routes to conceiving visit the NHS Website.
Some people get pregnant quickly, but for others it may take a while. There are lots of things that can affect how long it might take to become pregnant, and for some people this may not happen naturally at all. It is worth seeing a GP if you have not become pregnant after a year of trying so that they can check for any underlying difficulties and suggest suitable treatments if necessary. The NHS website explains what options are available.
It can feel intensely sad and isolating trying to cope with difficulties getting pregnant. Men experience the pain, guilt and impact on their self-esteem just as much as women. If you are struggling to become a parent it can seem like everyone around you is posting a scan picture on social media, or making jokes or hurtful remarks about what you’re missing out on. Special occasions like Christmas, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day might feel particularly hard. The Fertility Network UK offers a wide range of resources and support for those trying to conceive, going through treatment, or living without children.
Whether you are planning a pregnancy soon, or considering it at some point in the future, it is important to think about who might be around to help you. The old proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is shared widely for a reason!
Life with a newborn can be very demanding physically and emotionally and the more support you have around you the easier this might be. Have a think about what family members, friends or colleagues might be around to help, look at trusted online resources and find out more about what is available locally such as Children’s Centres or Family Hubs via your local council.
If you don’t have a partner or other supportive people around you, your GP can let you know about what support services and groups might be available in your area.
For some people, becoming a parent is all they’ve ever dreamed about and planning a pregnancy was never in question. For others, trying to decide when their career or finances are in the right place for them to start a family can be a difficult one. Maybe your sense of identity and value is closely tied in with your job and you are worried about losing this, or maybe you are desperate to be known as ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ and can’t wait to get on with it.
Everyone is different. There’s no right or wrong way to feel and there are lots of ways to get a good work and family-life balance. It might be helpful to know your career rights and options.
Visit the employers section of the PATH hub for lots of useful information about career rights and options.
Contraception Choices: information about the different types of contraception
Planning for Pregnancy: a tool for those who are planning a pregnancy that will tell you all you need to know about how to improve the health of your future pregnancy and child/ren
Sexwise: Planning and preparing for a pregnancy
National Childbirth Trust: How parental leave and pregnancy affect career progression
Pink Parents offers support for gay and lesbian parents
Stonewall parenting rights – information for parents on parenting rights including parental responsibility, adopting, fostering, co-parenting, fertility treatment and surrogacy
The LGBT+ Mummies Tribe provide resources, support groups and services for LGBT+ mums and parents