Preparing for a healthy pregnancy

                           Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy

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Topic Overview

Even though you're not pregnant yet, you might already be thinking about which room to turn into the baby's room and how to decorate it. And you might be making lists of all the baby clothes and supplies that you'll need. But it's also a good time to take some steps to help yourself have a happy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Now more than ever, it's smart to get regular exercise, eat healthy foods, and drink plenty of water, as well as to reduce or stop drinking caffeine. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs. When possible, avoid using medicines, including over-the-counter medicines. Always talk to your doctor first before you stop or start any medicines.

If you are not sure when you are most likely to get pregnant (when you are fertile), use the Interactive Tool: When Are You Most Fertile?

If you haven't yet chosen a health professional for pregnancy, childbirth, and after-birth (postpartum) care, give some thought to your many options. For more information, see Choosing Your Health Professional for Pregnancy Care.

Talk to your doctor about your medicines

Before trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about any medicines or dietary supplements you are taking. You and your doctor may decide that it's best to stop taking the medicine, to take a different medicine, or to keep taking it.

Eat well

For more information on how to eat well, see the topic Healthy Eating.

Make lifestyle changes

Get a checkup

If any problems or needs are found, deal with them early. Make sure you are fully immunized to prevent potential fetal harm. For example, if you have never had German measles (rubella) or the rubella vaccination or are unsure, tell your doctor. If a blood test shows that you have no immunity, you can be vaccinated. You should then wait at least 3 months after being vaccinated before you try to get pregnant.

As a part of your physical checkup, you may want to ask for a prepregnancy exam. Such an exam can help you find out risks to you or your potential children from pregnancy. This knowledge may help you decide whether you wish to see a family medicine doctor or midwife for your care during pregnancy or whether you require the care of a specialist. It may also help you decide what tests you want to have done during pregnancy.

If you have a condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, be sure to talk with your doctor about what this means for your pregnancy. Find out what you need to do to manage your condition and be ready for pregnancy.

See your dentist

Have fillings or other dental work done, if needed, before you become pregnant. If you have periodontal (gum) disease, have it treated before you become pregnant.

Consider genetic testing

Talk to your doctor about whether to have screening tests for diseases that are passed down through families (genetic disorders). Screenings for genetic disorders include those for:

Stopping birth control

If you use an intrauterine device (IUD), arrange to have it removed. If you have been taking the Pill (oral contraception) or using birth control shots (such as Depo-Provera), try to wait until you've had your first full menstrual period before you try to conceive. After your last birth control shot, it may take as long as 1 year for your period to come back.

Keep track of your menstrual periods

Understanding how pregnancy occurs and using fertility awareness can help increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Keep track of your menstrual cycle and when you have sexual intercourse. This information will help in figuring out your due date and your fetus's gestational age after you become pregnant.

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