Written by Dr Sam Saling for AJFN

You’re thinking of having a baby. Now what? It’s a daunting process, but we’ve compiled a one page handout of all the essential information you need to know to go forward with confidence.

Step 1: Discuss this with your partner (if you have one)

Trying to have a baby is a huge emotional, physical, financial and spiritual journey, one that will be far easier with a supportive partner on the same page. We recommend having this discussion early.

Step 2: Optimise your lifestyle.

Stick to healthy habits, such as following a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise (at least 30 minutes 5 days a week), optimal sleep, and an achievable work-life balance, to keep your body and mind fit during this crucial time of life.

Step 3: Build your resources

For females in particular, folate and iodine are essential building blocks to support a growing foetus. Most prenatal vitamins contain the recommended doses and should be started at least three months before trying to conceive. Note that some women will be recommended larger doses and even other supplements depending on their risk factors – this is for a discussion with your doctor.

Step 4: Assume pregnancy is possible

If you are not using contraception but are having regular unprotected intercourse, assume you could get pregnant at any point. Therefore, we recommend staying away from things like alcohol, cigarettes, and recreational drugs. We also recommend a review of any regular prescribed medications or unregulated supplements you may be taking, as sometimes these may be harmful to pregnancies in the early stages, and need to be excluded when trying to conceive.

Step 5: Check in with your GP

How long do you wait until you seek medical input? A preconception appointment is a great opportunity to discuss all of the above, and answer the many questions you will have. It is also a great opportunity to get up to date with outstanding screening procedures like cervical screening tests or breast checks, that are easier done when not yet pregnant if possible. Immunisations too may be recommended at this stage.

We recommend a discussion with your GP about genetic carrier screening for both you and your partner. For those with chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes or thyroid conditions, these should be managed so they are stabilised well before trying for a pregnancy. Some medications may also need to be changed so they are safe to take in a future pregnancy.

In terms of referrals to fertility specialists, here we refer to the guidelines for subfertility. If it has been more than 12 months for women under 35 years old, or 6 months for women over 35 years old, it’s time to think about further medical input. These are just guidelines, so if you want to seek fertility specialist opinion well before this, your GP will support this.

Step 6: Reach out for help

If your pregnancy pathway isn’t going to plan, please reach out to AJFN. We are here to help – however we can – whether it be building awareness around subfertility, advocacy, emotional support, and financial grants directly contributing to fertility treatments.

Resources we recommend:

MotherSafe NSW


Australian Jewish Fertility Network (AJFN) https://www.ajfn.org.au/

NSW Health: 

Thinking of Having a Baby: 


Smoking in Pregnancy:


Iodine supplements in pregnancy:


About Dr Sam Saling

Dr Sam Saling is a general practitioner in inner Sydney. Her clinical interests include women’s health, in particular reproductive and antenatal care, child health, and dermatology. Outside of clinical practice she has held advocacy roles through the Australian Medical Association, and undertakes medical communication and strategy work for private enterprise and not-for-profit organisations.

Sam has seen firsthand how devastating fertility issues can affect families, and it is a privilege to accompany her patients on this journey. She is honoured to have served on the AJFN board in 2023 as Board Observer and is passionate about using her medical knowledge to assist AJFN and the community at large.

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