What is preconception advice?

Preconception advice Knowing the basic physiology of pregnancy can increase a woman’ chances of becoming pregnant. For those who are trying to conceive, the best time to have sexual intercourse is around the time of ovulation. This is usually on day 14 of the menstrual cycle, but it varies amongst women.

For more information on how to prepare for pregnancy, see Preconception Advice.


Screening tests for women planning a pregnancy

Pregnancy screening An apparently healthy woman can carry diseases which do not cause symptoms, but which can have serious consequences if left untreated during pregnancy. Screening a woman’s blood before or during pregnancy allows a doctor to identify conditions which have the potential to adversely impact on her health, or the health of her developing baby (foetus).

For more information, see Screening Tests for Women Planning a Pregnancy.

Patient experience: Sarah tests her foetus’s DNA and her will

Patient experience: Amniocentesis If the baby is discovered to have a severe disability, through an amniocentesis, parents can choose whether they would like to continue or terminate the pregnancy. Sarah found this investigation not only tested her baby’s DNA but also her strength to stand for what she believes in. 

For more information, see Patient experience: Sarah tests her foetus’s DNA and her will.


Pregnancy and tobacco

Pregnancy   and tobacco Smoking or being exposed to tobacco smoke, before pregnancy is associated with a range of poor pregnancy outcomes, including reduced fertility, an increased risk of pregnancy complications and impaired infant and child development. Tobacco smoke exposure is considered one of the few, preventable causes of poor pregnancy outcomes in developed countries like Australia.

For more information, see Smoking and Passive Smoking Before Pregnancy.


Pregnancy and alcohol consumption

Pregnancy and  alcohol consumption Women who do not plan to become pregnant may consume alcohol, unaware that they are pregnant. As the effects of alcohol consumption on the foetus are most severe in the early stages of pregnancy, this may have particularly serious foetal effects.

For more information, see Pregnancy and Alcohol Consumption.

Importance of nutrition before pregnancy

Nutrition A woman’s nutritional status during pregnancy depends on the availability of nutritional reserves which have been built up in her body from prior consumption of foods containing those micronutrients. As these reserves build up before a woman becomes pregnant, maintaining good nutrition prior to conception is vital for ensuring adequate nutritional status during pregnancy and for the initial development of the embryo.

For more information, see Importance of Healthy Eating Before and During Pregnancy.

Health risks of being overweight before pregnancy

Health risks for being overweight before pregnancy Pre-pregnancy obesity is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, deep vein thrombosis, difficulty monitoring the foetus’s growth, delivery complications, stillbirth, postpartum haemorrhage, infection, depression and trouble breastfeeding.

For more information, see Over-Nutrition Before and During Pregnancy.

Health risks of being underweight before pregnancy

Under-nutrition  during pregnancy There are a range of adverse health effects associated with maternal under-nutrition. It can affect both the pregnant woman and developing baby in the short and long-term. Under-nutrition can be classified as either malnutrition or micronutrient deficiency.

For more information, see Under-Nutrition Before and During Pregnancy.

Exercise before pregnancy

Exercise before  pregnancy The exercise habits women have before they become pregnant will largely dictate whether they will engage in exercise during their pregnancy. Those women who are physically active and well informed about the benefits of exercise in pregnancy are likely to engage in a healthy exercise program until late gestation.

For more information, see Exercise Before Pregnancy.

Sperm health

Sperm health Some known causes of male infertility include low sperm count or non-functioning sperm. Sperm health can be affected by several factors, including drugs, environment, nutrition and sexually transmitted infections.

For more information, see Sperm Health.

More information


Pregnancy For more information about pregnancy, including preconception advice, stages of pregnancy, investigations, complications, living with pregnancy and birth, see Pregnancy.