Preparing for Pregnancy: What should I do?

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What can be done to prepare for pregnancy ahead of conception? Start by evaluating your daily habits and taking the time to change to a healthy lifestyle to prepare your body as well as your baby.

What you do before you become pregnant can impact your pregnancy. In addition to eating right, exercising and getting plenty of rest, there are things that you can do before getting pregnant to have the best chance for a healthy pregnancy as well as reduce your risks of birth defects.

1.  See your healthcare provider for a checkup. Make sure you’ve had all your immunizations, especially for rubella (German measles). If you’re taking a prescribed medication, be sure your healthcare provider and pharmacist know that you’re planning to become pregnant.

2.  If you smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs, stop! These substances can threaten the health of your baby, and your own health, too.

3.  Stay away from toxic chemicals at home and at work, avoid insecticides, solvent household cleaners and paint thinners, and lead and mercury based products. Read the labels before using chemicals, and if you have any doubt…   ask your healthcare provider!

4.  If you have a cat, don’t handle the cat litter. It can carry toxoplasmosis, which can cause birth defects. Take a break from this chore while you’re pregnant, ask your partner to take care of Fluffy’s business for the benefit of you and your baby if at all possible.

5.  Start taking  folic acid every day. This is important because it takes some time for your body to build up proper stores of this important B vitamin. Adding folic acid is important before conception and early in pregnancy as folic acid reduces neural tube defects, which are birth defects involving the brain or spine. 

6.  Parenthood is a lifetime commitment so it is also important to determine if you are emotionally ready to commit to a lifetime with your future baby.

Many women get pregnant and then change their lifestyle; by changing your lifestyle ahead of conception you are preparing yourself for an easier pregnancy and healthier baby.