Choices for Wellbeing: Starting a family

It’s important for organisations to offer help and support when it comes to their employees’ occupational health and wellbeing.

And there are certain times in an employees’ life when they’ll need more support than others, like making the decision to start a family.

Starting a family is one of the biggest life decisions someone can make. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the information you can share to guide people through what can be both an exciting and stressful time.

Making the decision to have a baby

It can be quite daunting when you decide to try for a baby.

Getting pregnant is not usually a difficult process and for most, it happens quickly, but for some it can take longer and can be a worrying and upsetting time. 

There is no hard and fast rule, everyone is different and some may need help to get pregnant. 

Getting pregnant 

Statistics show that for every 100 couples, around 80-90 will conceive within one year but the remaining 10-20 will take longer or may need help to get pregnant. (Source: Planning a Pregnancy - Family Planning Association)

In order for a woman to conceive, an egg must be fertilised by a sperm and become implanted in the uterus. In normal circumstances, an egg is released each month by the ovaries during the menstrual cycle (periods). This is called ovulation. 

This is the most fertile time as the egg travels down one of the fallopian tubes towards the uterus. Each egg only lives for up to 24 hours and it takes just one sperm to fertilise the egg. 

For most women, the usual sign of pregnancy is a missed period. A pregnancy test will then confirm this. There are many tests available over the counter or your GP surgery will carry out the test for you.

Difficulty conceiving 

Some women may experience difficulties in conceiving and there are ways of identifying the most fertile time. You can buy ovulation kits over the counter which can help identify the most likely time for conception. 

It can take a while to get pregnant and there are a number of factors that can affect getting pregnant.

Your periods may be irregular, you may have been taking the contraceptive pill or had a contraceptive injection which could have an impact on your hormonal cycle. Ovulation may be delayed or be irregular for up to 12 months. If you are worried you might not be ovulating, discuss your concerns with your doctor so they can advise you further. 

It is important to try and not get upset or worried if you don’t get pregnant straight away. Very often it can take much longer, and this is normal. 

Even if you are ovulating and there are sperm waiting for the egg, you may not become pregnant in the first few months of trying. Sometimes, even after fertilisation, the egg doesn’t implant successfully and is lost during the next period. 

As you get older the quantity and quality of eggs decrease and it can take longer and be more difficult to get pregnant. 

Some women get pregnant but the pregnancy fails (miscarriage). This is quite common and can happen to women of any age. Most women go on to have a successful pregnancy although some may require specialist help if miscarriages continue. 

Starting a family: Tips for men 

There are some things men can do to increase their sperm count: 

  • Keep testicles cool - wear loose underwear and avoid hot baths and showers 
  • Stop smoking 
  • Try to relax and avoid stressful situations 
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Stop any recreational drugs and reduce or stop drinking alcohol
  • Avoid excessive or intense exercise

Starting a family: Tips for women 

There are some things women can do to increase the chances of getting pregnant and remaining healthy during pregnancy: 

  • Taking a daily supplement of folic acid.
  • Taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day throughout your pregnancy and if you breastfeed 
  • Having a well-balanced diet which includes foods from all five food groups

Checklist for starting a family 

  • Unplanned pregnancy - don’t panic, seek professional support and advice 
  • Have patience, it can take a while to conceive 
  • Eat a well-balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight 
  • Take folic acid before conception and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy 
  • Maintain a healthy exercise programme both during and after pregnancy 
  • Keep hydrated - drink plenty of water but avoid or reduce drinks containing caffeine 
  • Stop smoking before, during and after pregnancy and encourage your partner to do the same 
  • It’s advisable not to drink alcohol or take recreational drugs 
  • Avoid foods that are harmful to your baby
  • Ask for a pregnancy risk assessment at work
  • Ensure you get enough rest 

Helpful links

You can find out more about pregnancy and planning a pregnancy from the following places: 

NCT (National Childbirth Trust) 

Disability, Pregnancy and Parenthood international (DPPi) 

Miscarriage Association 

Healthy Start NHS  

Infertility Network UK 

 

If you’d like to find out how our occupational health services can help to support people who want to start a family, get in touch with the team at Fusion now.

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Categories: Choices for WellbeingEmployeesOccupational HealthSupport

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