The time has come—you’re ready to have a baby. And once you’re pregnant, you’ll have a long list of things to consider to ensure your and your baby’s health. But what about before you actually get pregnant? What can you do to help make sure that your-baby-to be has all the health advantages you can provide? Here are some things to consider for proper preconception care:
Be as healthy as you can be. Of course, that’s a goal you should strive for all the time, but it’s particularly important as you prepare to conceive. To help achieve that goal, the March of Dimes suggests you get a complete checkup, preferably from the doctor who will be taking care of you during your pregnancy. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), some of the conditions you and your doctor should check for and address include:
- high blood pressure
- thyroid disease
Also, stay current on your vaccinations and discuss with your doctor any herbal supplements or over-the-counter medications you might be taking. Some might not be safe for your baby when you’re pregnant. And consider that being underweight can also be a concern, making it harder to get pregnant. Check with your doctor for your ideal weight.
Take folic acid supplements. Folic acid, one of the B vitamins, has proven its effectiveness in reducing the risk of certain birth defects. HHS recommends you begin taking a daily supplement containing 400 to 800 micrograms at least three months before you start trying to conceive. The March of Dimes points out that you can get also get folic acid by eating certain foods, including:
- black beans
- orange juice
Stop drinking and smoking. Both of these habits can make it harder for you to get pregnant. Alcohol and tobacco can also lead to problems with your baby’s development after you conceive. With tobacco, avoid second-hand smoke as well. Talk to your doctor if you need help giving up either alcohol or cigarettes.
Avoid exposure to toxic materials. Try to stay away from chemicals—from cleaning solutions around the house to any toxic substances in your workplace.
Consider the role of genetics. Does your family health history indicate any possible genetic concerns? If so, you should see a genetic counselor to discuss the chances of passing on health issues to your baby. To learn more about genetic counseling and where to find a counselor near you, visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ website.
Working with your doctor and following these guidelines, you can prepare for a healthy pregnancy—and a healthy child. At Woman’s Hospital, our Maternity Services offers a wide range of medical services, as well as classes that can help with your prenatal care.
Staying Healthy During Pregnancy