Pregnancy is a life-changing moment for any woman. If you are thinking about having children in the near future, it’s good to identify your goals and create an action plan well in advance to help you prepare for a healthy, happy pregnancy.
Tip #1: Schedule an Initial Doctor Visit
If possible, visit your doctor before you become pregnant to talk about your health before conception. You’ll discuss your medical history and any conditions that may cause pregnancy complications. Common areas of discussion include:
- Vaccines: Your doctor may recommend certain vaccinations before, during or directly after pregnancy. These can keep both mother and baby healthy.
- Conditions: Any medical conditions you have should be properly treated and controlled. In some cases, screening tests may be done for certain conditions. You may also talk about conditions you may be at risk for if you’re pregnant, like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure or postpartum depression.
- Medications: Some medications may not be safe during pregnancy, as they can cause birth defects. Your doctor will discuss these with you.
- Lifestyle: Your doctor may ask about your lifestyle, including stress levels, work environment, the presence of toxic substances, or your use of nicotine, alcohol or drugs.
Tip #2: Take Daily Vitamins
Women who plan on becoming pregnant should take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day leading up to and after conception. Consuming folic acid in proper quantities at least a month before and during pregnancy can prevent serious spine and brain birth defects in babies.
Tip #3: Break Bad Habits
The use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs can lead to major pregnancy complications. These include premature birth, birth defects and even death of the infant in severe cases. Take advantage of local treatment centers and other resources available if you need help quitting any of these substances. Your doctor can offer guidance through the process as well.
Tip #4: Know Your Family History
Family history can play a big role in child health, particularly if there’s a history of birth defects or other conditions. Your doctor might be able to use this information to refer you to genetic counseling or other services that can help.
Tip #5: Limit Exposure to Environmental Contaminants
Things like chemicals, metals, bug sprays, fertilizers and even animal feces may contain contaminants that can damage the reproductive system. Environmental contaminants might be found in the home or in certain work environments, and they can make it more difficult to become pregnant, even with small amounts of exposure. Exposure to these contaminants during pregnancy can lead to complications.
Tip #6: Assess Your Mental and Physical Health
We think first about physical health when it comes to pregnancy, but mental health can be just as important. Stress, anxiety and sadness can interfere with your day-to-day activities and make pregnancy more difficult—look for ways to be your best self, including counseling or other help that your doctor can assist with if needed.
In addition, look for ways to be as physically healthy as possible leading into pregnancy. One big area here is weight—people who are overweight are at higher risk of pregnancy complications and other medical conditions. Start making long-term lifestyle changes that incorporate both diet and exercise to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. Your doctor can help here if needed.
Your doctor can offer further recommendations on how to plan for pregnancy.
Obstetricians/gynecologists at Revere Health OB/GYN provide a full range of healthcare services to women throughout all stages of their lives including; puberty, child-bearing years, menopause.