Preconception health is for everyone, all the time, not just when planning a pregnancy.
Preconception health matters because becoming the healthiest version of yourself before conception will help maximise your chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
When planning a pregnancy, a few common actions recommended include:
- Abstaining from alcohol
- Taking a folic acid supplement
- A general health check with your GP
For some, a focus on your preconception health could include putting strategies in place to improve those ingrained habits over the long-term, such as upping your vegetable intake and increasing physical activity. It could also involve establishing larger strategies to ensure the environment you live in (whether it’s work, home, healthcare, or otherwise) can help you meet your preconception goals. CRE HiPP is also focussed on identifying barriers to lifestyle change through the environment we currently live in – this includes adapting resources to ensure they remain relevant for Australia’s diverse populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and multicultural communities.
We want to enable women to create an open dialogue about the factors that make it easier to maintain or improve lifestyle health. This should be your first step in your preconception health journey. Talk to your partner about what behaviours you might like to change (and what they can change, too!). Talk to your GP about family planning.
Here are some helpful tips for talking about pregnancy with your GP
You can even use these topics as a conversation starter at your next appointment.
Consider talking to your workplace to find out what support is available for women across the journey from conception to return to work. We are currently partnering with several workplaces across Victoria and Tasmania to create “one stop shop” web portals to help women employees optimise their wellbeing in preconception (and pregnancy and postpartum). A big part of these portals is what employers can do to help and we have been asking women and other employees to provide their valuable input into portal design. Responsibility for health and wellbeing sits with everyone.
Life can be really tough at times and there are many other forces at play when it comes to your overall health and wellbeing. Sometimes, our mental health needs attention first. Sometimes there are other barriers to behaviour change such as being too busy, our job, finances, family and friends, and media advice that is conflicting and confusing.
Taking small steps, setting small, achievable goals and finding someone you can trust to support you on your lifestyle improvement journey can really help. There are lots of strategies that can be used to help you overcome barriers to changing your behaviour – we will be adding these to this page, so check back here soon.
Remember, CRE HiPP is about support and is NOT about laying blame on women. Most importantly, while ‘weight’ can be a risk factor for various pregnancy and postpartum conditions, what is most important to us, is for you to be the healthiest version of yourself that you can be, whatever your size – embrace your body and love who you are!