Ready Steady Baby


Having another baby

If you’re thinking of having another baby it’s good to be prepared.

How long should I wait?

Making sure you and your partner are in the best of health will boost your chances of getting pregnant again so:

  • give your body time to fully recover from having this baby
  • wait at least 18 months before you conceive again

This will mean there’s:

  • less chance of complications and health issues during your pregnancy
  • a greater chance your next baby will be born a healthy weight and at full term

If you need further advice before trying for a baby, your GP or a midwife can give you more information.

Getting your body ready

You’re much more likely to have a safe and healthy pregnancy if you’re taking good care of yourself. Your baby’s health will be better too.

If possible, start planning at least 3 months before you stop taking contraception and trying for a baby.

To get in the best shape:

  • aim for a healthy weight and diet
  • take folic acid
  • manage your medicines well
  • look after your mental health
  • make sure you’ve had your MMR vaccination

And stop:

  • drinking alcohol
  • smoking
  • taking illegal drugs

Healthy weight and diet

Eating well and achieving a healthy weight’s important for:

  • fertility in men and women
  • a healthy pregnancy and birth

You should aim to:

  • be a healthy weight
  • eat a healthy balanced diet
  • be active every day

More about eating a healthy balanced diet

Folic acid

Women who are planning a pregnancy, or may become pregnant, should take a daily folic acid supplement. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects.

The recommended dosage is 400 micrograms:

  • at least one month prior to pregnancy
  • for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy

More about folic acid

Mental health

Positive mental health and wellbeing is important for you and your baby.

If you take medication for a mental health issue, speak to your GP or other health professional before becoming pregnant.

More about mental wellbeing

MMR vaccine

You should check if you’re protected against rubella. 

You’re protected if you’ve had 2 doses of the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine. If you’re unsure, ask your GP to check your vaccine history. If you haven’t had 2 doses of MMR, ask to get the vaccination.

As a precaution, you should avoid becoming pregnant for one month after having the MMR vaccine.

More about the MMR vaccine


If you’re planning a pregnancy or think you could become pregnant, the safest approach is to not drink alcohol. This is because drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to your baby. The more you drink the greater the risk.

Men should avoid excessive drinking, which can affect fertility. If they choose to drink, stay within recommended limits.

More about alcohol


If you’re planning a pregnancy or think you could become pregnant, stop smoking as this can be harmful to you, your unborn baby and those around you.

Get help to stop smoking


If you take prescription or over-the-counter drugs, discuss this with your GP or community pharmacist to ensure they’re safe to take during pregnancy.

No illegal drugs are safe for use in pregnancy or when planning pregnancy. If you’re using illegal drugs and finding it difficult to stop, speak to your GP or health professional for help.

More about taking drugs in pregnancy

Healthy relationships

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 physical or psychological abuse or violence and would like support:

Further information, other languages and alternative formats

Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.

If you need a different language or format, please contact

Last updated:
15 December 2023