7 things to do before you get pregnant

September 21, 2015 Providence Health Team

If you’re planning on having a baby, you’ll have nine months to prepare for motherhood but what about getting ready for pregnancy? There are important steps to take before you try to conceive. Read on and make sure you’re as healthy as can be — for yourself and your baby.

  1. See your physician
    Schedule a doctor’s appointment to discuss your family’s health history and any ongoing conditions, such as diabetes or asthma. Ensure that your immunizations are up to date and inform your provider of any medications or supplements you’re taking.
  2. Stop smoking and drinking
    Smoking and drugs, including alcohol, may make it more difficult to get pregnant. If you do get pregnant, these substances can increase the risk of miscarriage, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), preterm birth, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and other disabilities. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor if you need help quitting. Also, it’s a good idea to dial down your caffeine consumption. Drinking too much caffeine (more than two cups of coffee or five cans of soda daily) may make it harder to conceive.
  3. Eat a nutritious diet
    Cut back on empty calories, such as sugary drinks and junk food. Fill up on high-protein foods, produce, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Seafood contains mercury, which may cause birth defects. Limit your seafood to 12 ounces of fish a week and avoid large ocean fish, such as shark.
  4. Reach a healthy weight
    Ideally, you want to hit your target weight before you get pregnant. To boost your chances of having the healthiest pregnancy possible, it’s best not to be underweight or overweight. Regardless of how much you weigh when you get pregnant, don’t try to lose weight during pregnancy.
  5. Take vitamin B
    Folic acid, a B vitamin, decreases the risk of birth defects, particularly in the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Start taking a daily vitamin with at least .4 milligrams (400 mcg) of folic acid before you get pregnant, as a baby’s brain and spinal cord begin to develop early in the pregnancy.
  6. Exercise regularly
    Exercise can help your body better handle the changes and stress that pregnancy brings. If you already exercise, you can probably stick with the same program for the majority of your pregnancy. If you don’t exercise, aim for 30 minutes of brisk activity five days a week and continue that schedule while you’re pregnant.
  7. Kick back
    Try to minimize the stress in your life. Get as much rest and relaxation as you can. You’ll miss those peaceful moments once the baby comes!

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