Pregnancy Planning and Lifestyle Changes

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Doctor's View on Pregnancy Planning and Lifestyle Changes

Comment by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

If you're planning on trying to conceive, you can start to prepare for a healthy pregnancy even before you get pregnant. The following tips will help you prepare your body for the healthiest possible outcome. You may find it helpful to schedule a preconception checkup with your doctor to discuss preparation for pregnancy.

Diet and Lifestyle

  • Pay particular attention to consuming a healthy diet and getting enough exercise. Both diet and exercise are important in a healthy pregnancy, and the best time to establish these good habits is before you conceive.
  • You can also start taking prenatal vitamins before you're pregnant in order to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in your baby. The neural tube eventually forms the brain and spinal cord, and it begins developing in the first month of gestation. So taking the vitamins before you conceive helps maintain adequate vitamin levels in early pregnancy. Increasing your intake of folic acid is also beneficial.
  • If you smoke or drink alcohol, you should quit if you are planning to become pregnant.

Medical Conditions and Medications

  • If you have chronic medical conditions, schedule a visit with your doctor to discuss how pregnancy may change or affect the management of these conditions (for example, diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure). You also may need to review any medications you are taking to be sure that they are safe to take during your pregnancy. You may need to switch to a different drug or treatment plan during your pregnancy.
  • If you have any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or at risk for contracting STDs, be sure that you are screened and treated before conceiving. Many STDs can cause problems for the baby during pregnancy.

Vaccines

  • Check with your doctor to be sure that your vaccines are current. Certain infections can be dangerous to the developing fetus.

REFERENCE:

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What can a woman do to promote a healthy pregnancy before she gets pregnant?


Last Editorial Review: 7/12/2013 5:44:28 PM