Preconception health is the mental and physical health and wellbeing of men and women during their reproductive years, before and between pregnancies.
All men and women can benefit from good preconception health, whether or not they plan to have a baby now, or in the future.
Good preconception health is important for increasing your chances of getting pregnant (if or when you choose to) and having a healthy pregnancy.
Watch our video below to find out what you need to know.
Key messages for preconception health
Contraception and sexual health
Men and women should practice safer sex to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy. If you are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant, there are a range of contraception methods available to you. Please see our Lanarkshire Sexual Health website for more information.
Positive mental health and wellbeing is important for you and your baby. Find out more about mental health and wellbeing and the support services available on our webpage. If you take medication for a mental health problem, speak to your GP or other health professional before becoming pregnant.
Eating well and achieving a healthy weight is important for fertility (in men and women) and healthy pregnancy and birth outcomes. You should aim to be a healthy weight, which means having a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2. You can access information on eating well and the supports available for weight management, including our Weigh to go free adult weight management classes.
Women who are planning a pregnancy, or who may become pregnant, should take a daily folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms, at least one month prior to pregnancy and for the first 12 weeks. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects. Healthy Start vitamins contain folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin D and are suitable for use before, during and after pregnancy. Some women are at higher risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect (e.g. those with a family history or those with a body mass index of 30 or more) and may be prescribed a daily folic acid supplement of 5 milligrams by their GP.
If you are planning a pregnancy or think you could become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to your baby, with the more you drink the greater the risk. Men should avoid excessive drinking (as this can affect fertility) and if they choose to drink, drink within recommended limits. Further information about alcohol and support services can be found on our alcohol page.
Men and women who are planning pregnancy or who may become pregnant should stop smoking as this can be harmful to you, your unborn baby and those around you. Our Stop Smoking Service can help those who want to give up.
No illegal drugs are safe for use in pregnancy or when planning pregnancy. For more information about drugs and the support services available, visit our webpage. If you are using illegal drugs and finding it difficult to stop, speak to your GP or health professional for help and access to contraception.
If you are planning pregnancy and take prescription drugs, discuss this with your GP to ensure these are safe to take during pregnancy.
Being in a healthy and happy relationship before pregnancy is best for you and any children you may have. If you have experienced any form of gender-based violence and would like support, our EVA Services may be able to help.
If you are planning pregnancy or may become pregnant, you should check if you are protected against rubella. You are protected if you have had two doses of the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine. If you are unsure, ask your GP to check your vaccine history. If you haven’t had two doses of MMR, ask to get the vaccination. MMR vaccine could cause risk to your baby in pregnancy so you should avoid becoming pregnant for one month after having it. Further information is available on the Immunisation Scotland website.