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Are you about to start trying for a baby, or have you already been at it for a while? Your "avoid" list has just changed dramatically!

What should you not do when you are trying to conceive? This list covers the obvious as well as those little things you didn't think about yet. 

Assume you're already expecting

First off, something you should do: always assume you are already pregnant when you are trying to conceive. Most of the things that can be harmful to a fetus also reduce your fertility, so you it is usually best to avoid things that would be dangerous if you were pregnant during the second half of your cycle when you are definitely not pregnant yet as well. Beside that, there is always the chance that you are indeed pregnant but didn't recognize the signs yet. Yes, it happens; particularly if the woman confuses an implantation bleeding with her period.

No drinking, smoking, and drugs

OK, you knew this one already. Or did you? The idea that a "glass of wine here and there" isn't going to do any harm is quite widespread. Yet, no amount of alcohol during pregnancy has been proven to be safe, including that odd glass of red wine. There is some evidence to suggest that even one unit of alcohol a week during pregnancy can lead to signs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Staying away from alcohol entirely is really the best thing you can do.

Smoking regularly can lead to small birth weight babies, but also more drastic events like miscarriage and stillbirth. Smokers often find it really tricky to give up, so it's a good idea to quit smoking at the same time you start taking folic acid three months before you start trying to conceive. 

The harm maternal drug use can do to a fetus vary from drug to drug. Some, like marijuana, have the potential to cause mild harm. Others, like crack, can be absolutely devastating. In short, drugs are never a good idea and even less so during pregnancy. Women who use drugs should quit before they get pregnant, and get a health checkup before they start trying to conceive.

No suspect foods

Too much coffee has been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage slightly, so don't drink more than 200 ml a day and that includes other caffeinated drinks like cola. Raw meats and fish are out, as are unpasteurized milk and cheese. Do avoid foods from suspect vendors street stalls and weird junk food places should be out, really.

This is to avoid bacteria-ridden foods that could make you really ill, but you should also avoid eating junk food because it is devoid of nutrients yet rich in saturated fats. That's obviously bad news for you and your potential baby. Nutritional deficiencies can reduce your fertility as well, so it's best to eat healthy, home-cooked meals. Both men and women are more fertile when they eat well, so include your partner in your healthy eating plan!

Don't limit your sex life to when the ovulation test is positive

Remember when sex used to be just for fun? Don't limit your sex life to the time right after your ovulation test pops up positive and perhaps the week or so before you're expecting your ovulation. This will induce performance anxiety in your partner and probably make your relationship less enjoyable. We are not, of course, suggesting that you have sex when you don't feel like it. We just want you to avoid the common temptation of turning sex into a mechanical, manufacturing process just because you are trying to conceive.

Don't forget to enjoy your relationship

Just like it's important not to limit your sex life to baby-making, your relationship shouldn't be overshadowed by constant baby talk either. You and your partner will feel better if you continue to enjoy the same things you used to enjoy before you started trying to conceive. While trying to conceive is extremely exciting for both partners, women have a tendency to talk about it aaaaaaaallll the time. That can overwhelm their partners, something you probably don't want to do. Remember you could be pregnant next month, or it could take a year. In the meantime, life goes on.

Don't skip the folic acid

Folic acid is the only nutritional supplement that has been proven to prevent birth defects. This B vitamin fights neural tube defects including spina bifida. It also increases fertility in both men and women, making it an excellent supplement for you and your partner. Since folic acid takes a while to build up in the body, you should ideally start taking it three months before you actually start trying to conceive. Take 400 mg daily.

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