Lifestyle and planning to get pregnant

If you and your partner eat healthily and exercise moderately, you will provide the best health outcomes for your baby when you conceive.

Other things that can be done to improve the health of your developing baby include:

Taking folic acid (folate) to reduce the risk of spina bifida

If you and your partner are planning to conceive you should start taking vitamins that contain folic acid before you get pregnant. Folic acid is a B group vitamin that is important for your baby’s development during early pregnancy. Folic acid can help reduce the risk of birth abnormalities called neural tube defects such as spina-bifida. Find out more about folate and pregnancy

Watching what you eat

If you and your partner are preparing for pregnancy, you should look at your diet and see where you may be able to make healthier food choices. Eating healthier will help with your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.

The Women’s and Children’s Health Network (external site) provides advice and information on watching what you eat before pregnancy.


There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy therefore, for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option.  Alcohol can affect the health and development of an unborn baby for life. Find out more about drug and alcohol use during pregnancy.

Avoid listeria

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria sometimes found in food that has not been properly prepared or stored, particularly in certain high risk food types. Listeria can cause a food-borne illness called listeriosis. Listeriosis is especially dangerous to pregnant women as it can lead to miscarriage, premature birth or still birth. Find out more about Listeria infection.


Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recommends that while having large amounts of caffeine does not appear to cause birth defects, it may make it more difficult to become pregnant and may increase the risk of miscarriage or having a baby with low birth weight.


Iodine is very important during pregnancy for your baby’s development. For further information visit the FSANZ Iodine and pregnancy web page (external site).

Eat fish with lower levels of mercury

Fish is an excellent source of nutrients during pregnancy; however, certain fish are known to be high in mercury and consumption of these types of fish should be limited. For further information visit the FSANZ Mercury in fish web page (external site).

Where to get help


Womens and Newborns Health Network

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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