Getting Fit For A Family - our new leaflet tells you how to prepare

Every parent wants the best in life for their child – and now we’re helping you ensure your baby gets off to the finest start even before they’re born.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Public Health team is publishing a handy leaflet ‘Getting Fit For A Family’ to ensure both mums and dads-to-be are in tip-top condition.

Losing weight, eating a nutrient-rich balanced diet, stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and keeping fit and active can improve fertility for men and woman.

And once you have conceived, following the same healthy lifestyle will help reduce the chances of complications during pregnancy.

The leaflet, which is available from GP surgeries, sexual health clinics,  through health visitors and maternity services, details many of the county council commissioned services and partner organisation which offer support and keep Oxfordshire thriving.

Donna Husband, Head of Commissioning Health Improvement at Oxfordshire County Council’s Public Health department said:

“There is a lot of information for women about pre-conception and pregnancy however there isn’t much for men. Putting together this leaflet has very much focussed on information for both men and women and the importance of both parties when trying to conceive and whilst pregnant.

We want to speak to parents about their health when trying to conceive as it doesn’t just have a short-term effect on the baby but can have lifelong effects on your children.”

It tells you about

Planning ahead:

  • Folic acid: Ideally, this should be taken two to three months before conception to protect against problems with the baby’s brain and spinal cord.

  • Contraception: Some methods can affect fertility for some time after stopping. If you are thinking about planning a family, talk to your GP for more advice.

  • Health: If you have any pre-existing medical issues, especially if you are on medication, speak to your GP before trying to conceive

Losing weight:

Being overweight can lower fertility in men and women, it can also increase risks of miscarriage, still birth, developmental abnormalities and gestational diabetes.

If you need help shifting the pounds, there’s a host of info and practical advice from www.achieveoxfordshire.co.uk, www.oxspa.co.uk, and for male footie fans who want to get back in action on the pitch, there’s the popular FA endorsed Man V Fat leagues in Oxford, Bicester and a new one starting soon in Banbury (www.manvfat.com)

Smoking and alcohol:

Quitting smoking altogether is the best thing you and your partner can do. Smoking cigarettes can reduce fertility in both men and women, and may mean it takes longer to get pregnant. If you do conceive and carry on, a smoke-filled environment increases the risk of more serious complications for you and your baby with issues like deep vein thrombosis, miscarriage and foetal abnormalities. And if your baby is safely delivered, your son or daughter has a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Our quit smoking organisation www.smokefreelifeoxfordshire.co.uk has been taking its wellness on wheels vans across the county for pop-up smoking cessation clinics. People have been getting free NRT therapies to get them on the road to a smoke free future. You can sign up for an appointment for face-to-face or telephone support by visiting the website.

Fancy a tipple? Alcohol crosses the placenta and while there is no known safe level to drink during pregnancy, it is known the more you drink the bigger the risks – including increasing the chances of your baby having learning difficulties.

For alcohol and drugs advice turn to www.wellbeing.turning-point.co.uk/oxfordshire

It has hubs in Oxford, Witney, Banbury and Didcot which offer warm welcomes to

all service users, workers and family and friends.

It has dedicated recovery workers, support and aftercare, harm reduction, peer mentoring, and even activities and trips.

Mental wellbeing

Being mentally well in pregnancy is just as important as your physical health. Take care of your mental wellbeing as you try to conceive, including being active, taking regular exercise, eating well and talking to someone you can trust. If you feel you need support, contact the friendly and helpful team at Oxfordshire Mind (www.oxfordshiremind.org.uk)

For more advice on the leaflet visit Oxfordshire County Council’s dedicated page here https://bit.ly/2Nwvdrb