If you are trying to have a baby or are just thinking about it, it is not too early to start getting ready for pregnancy. Preconception health and health care focus on things you can do before and between pregnancies to increase the chances of having a healthy baby. For some women have, getting their body ready for pregnancy takes a few months. For other women have, it might take longer. Whether this is your first baby, the following Steps are important to help you get ready for the healthiest pregnancy.
- Make a Plan and Take Action
Whether or not you have written them down, you’re probably thought about your goals for having or not having child, & how to achieve those goals. For example, when you didn’t want to have a child, you used effective birth control methods to achieve your goals. Now that you’re thinking about getting pregnant, it’s really important to take steps to achieve your goal—getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.
Get started by using this checklist to help you set your goals for the year.
- See Your Doctor
Before getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about your doctor about preconception health care. Doctor will want to discuss your health history and any medical conditions you currently have that could affect a pregnancy. Doctor also will discuss any previous pregnancy problems, medicines that you currently are taking, vaccinations that you might need, and steps you can take before pregnancy to prevent certain birth defects.
If your doctor has not talked with you about this type of care―ask about it! Take a list of talking points so you don’t forget anything!
Be sure to talk to your doctor about:
- Medical Conditions
If you currently have any medical conditions, be sure they are under control and being treated. Some of these conditions include: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), diabetes, thyroid disease, phenylketonuria (PKU), seizure disorders, high blood pressure, arthritis, eating disorders, and chronic diseases.
- Lifestyle and Behaviors
Talk with your doctor or another health professional if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use “street” drugs; live in a stressful or abusive environment; or work with or live around toxic substances. Health care professionals can help you with counseling, treatment, and other support services.
If you are planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the need for any medication with your doctor before becoming pregnant and make sure you are taking only those medications that are necessary taking certain medicines during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. These include some prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements.
Some vaccinations are recommended before you become pregnant, during pregnancy, or right after delivery. Having the right vaccinations at the right time can help keep you healthy and help keep your baby from getting very sick or having lifelong health problems.
- Stop Drinking Alcohol, Smoking, and Using Street Drugs
Taking Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using street drugs can cause many problems during pregnancy for a woman and her baby, such as premature birth, birth defects, and infant death.
If you are trying to get pregnant and cannot stop drinking, smoking, or using drugs get help your doctor.
- Avoid Toxic Substances and Environmental Contaminants
Avoid toxic substances and other environmental contaminants harmful materials at work or at home, such as synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces. These substances can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women. They can make it more difficult to get pregnant. Exposure to even small amounts during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, or puberty can lead to diseases. Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from toxic substances at work and at home.
- Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight
People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for many serious conditions, including complications during pregnancy, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).1 People who are underweight are also at risk for serious health problems.2
The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about short-term dietary changes. It’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.
If you are underweight, overweight, or obese, talk with your doctor about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant.
- Get Help for Violence
Violence can lead to injury and death among women at any stage of life, including during pregnancy.
If someone is violent toward you or you are violent toward your loved ones―get help. Violence destroys relationships and families.
- Learn Your Family History
Collecting your family’s health history can be very important for your child’s health. You might not realize that your sister’s heart defect or your cousin’s sickle cell disease could affect your child, but sharing this family history information with your doctor.
Your doctor may refer you for genetic counselling, Based on your family history. Other reasons people go for genetic counselling include having had several miscarriages, infant deaths, or trouble getting pregnant –infertility, or birth defect or a genetic condition that occurred during a previous pregnancy.
- Get Mentally Healthy
Mental health is how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. To be at your best, you need to feel good about your life and value yourself. Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad, or stressed sometimes. However, if these feelings do not go away and they interfere with your daily life, get help. Talk with your doctor or another health professional about your feelings and treatment options.
Once you are pregnant, be sure to keep up all of your new healthy habits and see your doctor regularly throughout pregnancy for prenatal care. Have a Healthy Pregnancy!