Most women know they need to see a doctor or midwife and make lifestyle changes while pregnant. But, it is just as important to start making changes before you get pregnant. These steps will help you prepare yourself and your body for pregnancy and give you a better chance of having a healthy baby.
See your doctor or midwife 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 or use other forms of tobacco, 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 or midwife.
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 daily consume more than 2 cups (500 mL) of coffee or 5 cans (2 L) of soda that contains caffeine may have a harder time getting pregnant and a greater chance of miscarriage.
Limit unnecessary medicines or supplements. Discuss with your provider about both prescribed and over-the-counter medicines and supplements you take before you try to conceive. Most medicines have some risks, but many have unknown risks and have not been thoroughly studied for safety. If medicines or supplements are not absolutely necessary, do not take them.
Maintain or strive for a healthy body weight.
A balanced diet is always good for you. Follow a healthy diet before you get pregnant. A few simple guidelines are:
A moderate intake of fish will help both you and your baby to be healthy. The FDA states that fish is part of a healthy eating pattern. Some types of seafood contain mercury and should not be eaten in large amounts. Pregnant women should:
If you are underweight or overweight, it is best to try to reach your ideal weight before you get pregnant.
Take a vitamin and mineral supplement that includes at least 0.4 milligrams (400 micrograms) of folic acid.
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.
Most women who already exercise can safely maintain their current exercise program throughout the most of their pregnancy.
And most women, even if they are not currently exercising, should start on an exercise program of 30 minutes of brisk exercise 5 days per week, both before conceiving and throughout pregnancy.
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 or midwife about what kind of exercise, and how much, is good for you.
While you are trying to get pregnant, try to relax and reduce stress as much as possible. Ask your doctor or midwife about techniques to reduce stress. Get plenty of good quality sleep and make time to relax .These steps may make it easier for you to become pregnant.
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Review Date: 4/19/2022
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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