More doctors are stressing the importance of being in optimal health before getting pregnant and even suggest preparing as many as three months before conception. Here’s what you can do before getting pregnant to give yourself and your baby the best chance of having a healthy pregnancy.
1. Schedule a Preconception Visit
Preconception care aims to improve pregnancy outcomes by identifying health risks in women, such as diabetes, and addressing these risks through proper treatment. If left untreated, chronic conditions can cause very serious health complications for you and/or your child. For example, women diagnosed with diabetes need to take extra care in managing blood glucose levels before getting pregnant, as blood glucose levels tend to rise during the first trimester. Women with diabetes are nearly four times more likely to have a child with a birth defect compared to women without diabetes.
2. Learn About Genetic Carrier Screening
Genetic carrier screening is a noninvasive test, done among couples, that uses nothing more than a blood draw to test whether an individual carries a genetic mutation that may cause an inherited genetic disorder, such as sickle cell anemia.
If both partners are carriers of the same genetic disorder, a genetic counselor will discuss the risk that your child will be born with the disease as well as alternative reproductive choices. It is recommended that this test is done before conception in order to have time to discuss reproductive options and decisions regarding pregnancy care.
3. Stop Taking Your Birth Control or Remove Any Birth Control Devices
Birth control methods such as condoms can be used until you’re ready to start trying to conceive. However, if you’re currently taking birth control pills or are using a device, such as an IUD, consider stopping use soon. Some women may need a few weeks or even months in order to start ovulating after they quit using birth control pills or devices. If you think you’ll want to start trying to conceive in the near future, stop using these birth control methods now.
4. Focus on Your Health
Being overweight or underweight may affect your ability to get pregnant. If you need to lose weight but aren’t sure where to start, your doctor will work with you to create an exercise plan that is best for your current state of health and that can be modified as you progress.
Diet is also an important part of getting healthy. To ensure you’re getting the recommended daily dose of vitamins and minerals, eat a wide range of whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend taking 400 mg of folic acid every day for at least one month before conception.
5. Take a Vacation With Your Significant Other
Trying to conceive can be stressful and frustrating for some couples. Additionally, traveling or even running errands with a baby or toddler may prove to be challenging at times. Before the baby arrives, consider taking a romantic trip together. This will allow you and your partner some peaceful one-on-one time to enjoy together as a couple, without any disruptions. This may also be the perfect time to do something you have always wanted to do together, but have not yet had the opportunity.
Have Questions Regarding Preconception Care?
If you and your partner are
thinking of having a baby and you have questions regarding conception or
preconception health, talk to your doctor. The most important thing to do when
preparing for a pregnancy is to be as thoroughly informed about your health as