April 14, 2021
Healthy Living: The Importance of Diet and Exercise
- Family Medicine
- Wellness Institute
November 21, 2017 • Women and Children's Center
Preparation is key to a healthy pregnancy. You can do a variety of things—collectively known as preconception healthcare—to increase your chances of delivering a healthy baby. Remember these areas when preparing to conceive.
Consider your goals for having children, and how to achieve them. If you are not yet ready to have a baby, for instance, consider effective birth control. Your doctor is an important asset in making these choices. Speak to your doctor in advance about preconception health care, and discuss your history and any medical conditions as well. Be sure to ask about your current and past conditions, lifestyle changes, medications and any vaccinations that may impact pregnancy.
Folic acid is a B-vitamin that can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine during pregnancy. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least one month before pregnancy and then during pregnancy, the risk of these defects significantly decrease. If you’re considering getting pregnant, take 400 milligrams of folic acid per day.
Each of these substances can cause significant problems during pregnancy, from premature birth to birth defects and even death. If you find you’re struggling with quitting these habits in advance of pregnancy, consider getting help from your doctor or a local treatment center. Other resources include Alcoholics Anonymous and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment facility locator.
Avoid substances like synthetic chemicals, fertilizer, metals, bug spray or animal feces, which can be found at home or at work. These substances can hurt both the male and female reproductive systems and can make it tougher to get pregnant. Even small amounts of exposure during pregnancy can lead to diseases.
People who are overweight have a higher risk of several serious conditions, including pregnancy complications. People who are underweight also face higher risks. Consider long-term changes to your lifestyle, including healthy eating and proper exercise, to get to a healthy weight before becoming pregnant.
If someone is violent toward you at any point, and particularly during a pregnancy, seek help immediately. Violence can lead to injury and death, including among pregnant women, and can also lead to physical and emotional scarring.
Know your family’s health history, which can be important for your future child’s health. Share this information with your doctor in advance of getting pregnant. Your doctor may advise genetic counseling, something some people go to after several miscarriages, infant deaths, infertility issues or genetic conditions or birth defects from a prior pregnancy.
It’s important to be at a good place with your mental health before pregnancy. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about mental health—they may be able to refer you to another health professional.
Your doctor can offer additional recommendations on ways to stay healthy and prepare your body for pregnancy.
“Protect Your Pregnancy Before You Conceive.” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/features/protect-your-pregnancy-before-you-conceive#1
“Preconception Health and Health Care.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/preconception/planning.html
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.