Planning for a Healthy Pregnancy
Are you thinking about becoming pregnant in the next year? There are some simple things you can do to start getting ready for a healthy pregnancy.
- Start taking a daily prenatal vitamin or a multivitamin with folate (also called folic acid). This reduces your risks for certain birth defects like spina bifida, a spinal cord formation defect.
- Assess your diet and make changes if necessary to avoid processed foods and have a more balanced diet with adequate servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You don’t necessarily need to diet before trying to get pregnant, but eating healthier may help you achieve a better starting weight. Crash diets may affect your metabolism drastically and can temporarily affect your fertility so it’s better to make gradual changes.
- Establish a regular exercise regimen will also help with managing your pre-pregnancy weight and help improve your endurance for pregnancy.
There are also foods to avoid as you get ready for pregnancy.
- Raw or undercooked meats and fish
- Unpasteurized dairy products
- Processed meats high in nitrites
- Fish that are high in mercury content such as swordfish, tile fish, mackerel and shark.
If you smoke, the best time to quit is now, before you become pregnant. Of course, this is easier said than done and your health care provider can assist you with smoking cessation options. Excessive alcohol consumption is a major risk to pregnancy, but even low levels of alcohol and illegal drugs are unsafe in pregnancy. Both alcohol and recreational drug use are best stopped before becoming pregnant. This seems to work best when you choose to stop these as a couple.
Your obstetrical health care provider is there to help you prepare for pregnancy. We recommend that all women have a pre-conception counseling visit to review their health history and their family health history with their provider. It is important to review your medications and supplements for safety in pregnancy. You may have to make some changes to your medications before attempting to become pregnant.
You should also review your need for getting your vaccinations up to date and some blood work may be necessary to determine if you need boosters. Vaccines for MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and chicken pox (varicella) are recommended prior to pregnancy but cannot be given during pregnancy and there is a 30 to 90 day waiting period to avoid pregnancy after receiving these vaccines. If you have medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or thyroid disease getting good control of these medical issues is best achieved before pregnancy. Finally, your obstetrical provider can give you tips on when and how to stop birth control and how to improve your chances of conceiving when you are ready to start trying to become pregnant.
DISCLAIMER: The contents and opinions expressed by Everett Clinic teammates and providers on “A Healthier You” blog and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your own provider for personal health recommendations
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