Dr Ting Hua Sieng, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialist from Mount Elizabeth Hospital answers your pregnancy related questions.
WORDS DR TING HUA SIENG
My husband and I are planning to have a baby and I’ve begun to eat healthy to increase our chances of conceiving. But is there anything I should or should not eat?
It is important to lead a healthy lifestyle at all times, more so when you are trying for a pregnancy. A healthy lifestyle should include healthy balanced regular meals, regular exercises, adequate rest/sleep and avoid excessive stress. It is always easy said than done, especially living in this fast-paced city.
Essentially, any permutation of healthy balanced diet consisting of a variety of carbohydrates, proteins, fruits and vegetables is good enough, depending on which cultural background you come from. In terms of special supplement, folic acid may be the only one that most O&G doctors will recommend. Folic acid intake has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the developing fetus, especially during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. One of the most common neural tube defects is spina bifida. Women are usually advised to start taking folic acid when planning to get pregnant.
For patients with known medical problems like Diabetes Mellitus, it is important to ensure that the blood sugar control is as ideal as possible during the time of conception. Poor blood sugar level at the time of conception and during the first trimester has been shown to increase the risk of foetal anomalies in the developing fetus also.
For women who are already on medications for thyroid problems or high blood pressure, they also need to consult their doctors before trying for pregnancy. Some medications may need to be changed and dosages adjusted. Do not take any medication without first checking carefully whether it is safe in pregnancy.
Obviously, smoking and alcohol consumption should not continue when trying for pregnancy and also during pregnancy. Excessive consumption of these can cause the growth of foetus to be adversely affected and even fetal anomalies can be found.
Eating healthily is just one of the many factors which may affect a woman’s chances of conceiving. After a year of unprotected regular sexual intercourses, if there is still no spontaneous conception, it would be wise to consult an O&G specialist for further investigations. Some couples may not be able to have a baby because of problems with ovulation, blocked fallopian tubes or insufficient sperm count etc may not have anything to do with how healthy they eat.