A 12-month campaign has been launched by Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership to encourage women across Surrey to get fit and healthy before they try for a baby.

Launched on 3 August, #ReadyforPregnancy aims to raise awareness of how women’s health when they get pregnant affects them and their baby not only throughout their pregnancy, but also at birth.

Running across NHS organisations, local authorities and local support groups, the campaign will focus on a different aspect of health each month. These can improve a couple’s chances of conceiving and going on to have a happy and healthy pregnancy and birth. Topics include taking regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking and looking after your mental health.

Starting pregnancy at a healthy weight is one of the key aspects covered by the campaign. A raised body mass index (BMI) in a pregnant woman can affect the way a baby develops in the womb and it also increases the risk of miscarriage. Being overweight also makes it more likely that the baby will be larger, raising the chances of complications at birth.*

Gemma Puckett, Head of Midwifery at Ashford & St Peters Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is such an exciting time for couples but we know that most women don’t seek health advice before becoming pregnant and are often unaware of the risks to themselves and their baby. There is a clear link between a mother’s health before pregnancy, the risks she is exposed to or exposes herself to, and her baby’s health.

“We want to every woman in Surrey to know how to prepare themselves for a healthy pregnancy which they can enjoy, and a few small changes can make a big difference. #ReadyforPregnancy is a great way to help raise awareness of things women can do before conception to improve fertility, pregnancy health and their baby’s future health.”

In addition to the monthly focuses, the campaign will promote the helpful ‘Planning for pregnancy’ online tool developed by Tommy’s charity to tell women and their partners all they need to know about how to improve the health of their future pregnancy and child.

The campaign will run on social media across Surrey and will also provide information in a range of formats to support women who do not have English as their first language and those from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller backgrounds. Women and their partners from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds will also be supported as part of the #ReadyforPregnancy campaign.