Visit Your Doctor. You want to be as healthy as
possible before you conceive a baby. A prepregnancy exam
should reveal any health issues you need to address before
becoming pregnant. If you take any prescription medications,
over-the-counter preparations, or alternative remedies,
ask your doctor if these are safe for you to continue taking
when you become pregnant. Your doctor will want to know
if you have had Rubella (measles) or chickenpox, if you
have any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or if there
are genetic disorders in your family. Your answers will
help your doctor determine whether you need certain immunizations
Visit Your Dentist. It’s a good idea to
make sure your teeth and gums are healthy before you get
pregnant. Oral health can affect your overall health. For
example, it is now known that bacteria from the mouth can
enter the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body.
Some studies link periodontal disease to an increased risk
of preeclampsia (toxemia), a condition that can occur during
pregnancy, characterized by high blood pressure and swelling
due to fluid retention.
If You Smoke, Quit Now. Smoking slows the growth
of an unborn baby and nearly doubles the chances that the
baby will have a low birth weight. Low birth weight babies
are at risk for many serious health problems. Smoking also
increases the risk of premature birth or miscarriage. Quitting
smoking before you get pregnant is one of the best things
you can do to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
If You Drink Alcohol or Use Drugs, Stop Now. Alcohol
is a teratogen, a substance that is known to cause birth
defects. There is no amount of alcohol that is safe to
drink during pregnancy because alcohol crosses the placenta
and enters the baby’s body. Similarly, some recreational
drugs may seriously harm your unborn baby. If you are unable
to stop drinking or taking drugs, talk to your doctor,
a counselor, or another health care professional. Meanwhile,
continue to use birth control so you don’t become
Take Daily Folic Acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin
that helps protect your baby from neural tube birth defects.
The neural tube develops into the baby’s brain and
spinal cord. It is important to start taking folic acid
before you become pregnant because neural tube development
occurs early in pregnancy. Women need 400 micrograms (mcg.)
of folic acid each day. The easiest way to get the folic
acid you need is to take a multivitamin that contains the
correct amount. (Read the label to be sure.) You can get
extra folic acid from fortified breakfast cereals, spinach,
broccoli, dried peas, orange juice, and beans.
Avoid NSAIDs. While trying to get pregnant, don’t
take aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen or any other
pain reliever classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drug (NSAID). NSAIDs increase the risk of miscarriage,
and the very highest risk is at the time of conception.
Its fine to use acetominophen products (e.g. Tylenol),
however, with your doctor’s permission. Acetominophen
is not an NSAID and i s not associated with miscarriage
at any time during pregnancy.
Get Genetic Counseling if Needed. If members of
your family or your husband’s or partner’s
family have sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, or other
inherited disorders, you may want to consult a genetic
counselor. If you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent you may
wish to be screened for Tay Sachs disease and Gaucher Disease.
Those of Norrbottniam Swedish descent may also want to
consider screening for Gaucher Disease.
Make Exercise Part of Your Lifestyle. If you have
already been exercising regularly, keep it up! If not,
its time to start making exercise a regular part of your
lifestyle. Your doctor can advise you regarding the exercise
options that are best for you. Regular exercise relieves
stress, improves muscle strength, helps ward off depression,
helps prevent constipation, and increases your energy level.
When you become pregnant, review your exercise regimen
with your doctor. Make any modifications your doctor suggests,
but continue to exercise regularly throughout your pregnancy.
It will continue to benefit you physically and emotionally,
and can even make the delivery of your baby easier.
Review Your Health Insurance Benefits. For planning
purposes, you should know: