Most women know they need to see a doctor and make lifestyle changes while pregnant. But, it is just as important to start making changes before you are pregnant. These steps will help you prepare yourself and your body for pregnancy, plus give you a better chance of having a healthy baby.
See your health care provider before you get pregnant. Even if you feel you are healthy and ready for a pregnancy, your doctor or midwife can do plenty ahead of time to help you prepare.
If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs, you should stop before you get pregnant. They can:
If you need help quitting smoking, alcohol, or drugs, talk to your doctor.
Alcohol can harm a growing fetus (unborn baby), even in small amounts. Drinking alcohol while you are pregnant can cause long-term problems for your baby, such as intellectual disability, behavioral issues, learning disabilities, and facial and heart defects.
Smoking is bad for unborn babies and puts your child at greater risk of health problems later in life.
Drugs that are not prescribed by a doctor (including street drugs) can be dangerous for you to take at any point in your life.
You should also cut down on caffeine when you are trying to get pregnant. Women who consume more than 2 cups of coffee or 5 cans of soda a day may have a harder time getting pregnant and a greater chance of miscarriage.
A balanced diet is always good for you. You should follow a healthy diet before you get pregnant. A few simple guidelines are:
Also limit the amount of fish that you eat. Seafood contains mercury, which can cause birth defects if eaten in large amounts. Pregnant women should:
If you are underweight or overweight, it is best to try to reach your ideal weightbeforeyou get pregnant.
Take a vitamin and mineral supplement that includes at least 0.4 milligrams (400 micrograms) of folic acid.
Don’t take herbal supplements. There are no good studies on the safety of herbs during pregnancy.
Exercising before you get pregnant may help your body deal with all of the changes that you will go through during the pregnancy and labor. The amount of exercise you are able to do during pregnancy should be based on your overall health and how active you are before you get pregnant. Talk to your doctor about what kind of exercise, and how much, is good for you.
While you are trying to get pregnant, try to relax and be as stress-free as possible. Ask your doctor or midwife about techniques to reduce stress. Get plenty of rest and relaxation. This may make it easier for you to become pregnant.
Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc
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