Things to do before you get pregnant

Things to do before you get pregnant

To give yourself the best chance of a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, there are some important things you need to do before you head down the road to conception.

- Schedule a preconception visit

Your practitioner will most likely discuss diet, weight, exercise, and any unhealthy habits you may have; recommend a multivitamin; make sure you're up to date on your immunizations; test you for immunity to childhood diseases such as chicken pox and rubella; and answer any questions you have. In addition, you may be referred to a specialist if you have certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure, that need to be controlled before you get pregnant.

- Take folic acid (and watch out for vitamin A)

Taking a folic acid supplement is crucial. By taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid a day for at least one month before you conceive and during your first trimester, you can cut your chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects such as spina bifida by 50 to 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

- Give up binge drinking, smoking, and drugs

If you smoke or take drugs, now is the time to stop. Many studies have shown that smoking or taking drugs can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, and low-birth-weight babies.

- Start eating healthy foods}

You are not eating for two yet, but you should start making nutritious food choices now so your body will be stocked up with the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.

- Aim for a healthy weight

You may have an easier time conceiving if you are at a healthy weight. Having a low or high body mass index (BMI) makes it harder for some women to become pregnant.

- Create an exercise program

Start and stick to a fitness plan now, and you will be rewarded with a healthy body that's fit for pregnancy. A healthy exercise program includes 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise.

- See your dentist

When you are preparing for pregnancy, do not forget about your oral health. Hormonal shifts during pregnancy can make you more susceptible to gum disease.