Thinking about having a baby? Before you become pregnant, there are steps you can take to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. From your medical profile to nutrition and lifestyle, pre-pregnancy planning can help get you off to a healthy start.
Let your doctor know that you’re planning to get pregnant, especially if this is your first pregnancy. Your physician may recommend a physical exam and blood work to rule out concerns that might make it more difficult to conceive or increase your chances of a high-risk pregnancy.
If you have a medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease, your doctor will talk with you about how these may affect your pregnancy and any extra care you may need. Also, let your doctor know if any medical problems run in your family. If they do, you may want to see a genetic counselor.
Discuss with your doctor any medications you are taking, both prescription and over- the-counter, including vitamins and supplements. Some medications are not safe to take once you become pregnant, so you will want to have a plan to stop them or find alternatives.
If you don’t have a Mercy OB/GYN, ask your doctor for a referral. That way, when you do get pregnant, you’ll already have a specialist waiting.
Start taking a folic acid supplement. Folic acid significantly reduces the likelihood of spina bifida and other birth defects. Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily for at least one month before you conceive, and continue taking it during your first trimester.
If you use tobacco, alcohol or other substances, stop now. These can lead to serious health problems for your baby during pregnancy and after, and may increase your risk for miscarriage. If you need help quitting, ask your doctor about programs and support groups that can help you succeed.
Reduce caffeine use. The jury is still out on exactly how caffeine affects pregnancy, so play it safe and start cutting back now if you need to. The March of Dimes advises pregnant women to limit their caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams per day, about the amount in one 12 oz. cup of coffee.
Be careful with seafood. Mercury in fish can raise your risk during pregnancy, so avoid those that have high levels, such as swordfish, tilefish, mackerel and shark. Also avoid raw seafood – give up sushi until after your baby is born.
Most women under age 35 become pregnant within six months to a year of trying. Mercy Family Planning Services can help you understand your natural fertility cycle and learn when you are most likely to conceive.
Whether this will be your first child or you’re adding to your family, your Mercy team is ready to care for you and your baby.