Preconception Health

A healthy pregnancy begins before you become pregnant. It's important to learn what you can do now to make sure any future pregnancies are planned and healthy. Here are a few things that you can talk about with your doctor before you plan a pregnancy.

  • Be prepared. Family planning is your ability to have children when you want to have them. Being able to prepare financially for your children is a benefit of family planning. The recommended time frame between pregnancies is at least 18 months.
  • Eat a healthy diet. What you eat will also feed your baby. You want to make sure you get plenty of calcium, folic acid, protein and iron. Talk with your doctor about what nutrients you need and how to get them.
  • Take folic acid. All women need folic acid every day. It is recommended that you get at least 400 mcg if you are planning a pregnancy. This can prevent some birth defects of the brain and spine. Talk to your doctor about your folic acid needs. Some doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins that contain higher amounts of folic acid.
  • Be at a healthy weight. Being overweight or underweight puts you at increased risk for problems during pregnancy like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
  • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Alcohol and smoking are not good for you or your baby. Doing these while pregnant can cause things like brain damage, mental retardation,
  • Don't use drugs. Any drug used when you are pregnant, even medicines prescribed by other doctors, can hurt your baby. They can cause your baby not to grow well before and after birth. Almost every drug can pass from you to your baby. Be open and honest about all drug use with your doctor.
  • Consider your health. If you have a medical condition, be sure it is under control. Some conditions can cause issues during pregnancy. Asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, epilepsy and obesity are examples.
  • Get tested. Be aware of vaccines and screenings you might need. This includes a Pap test and tests for sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Know your history. Be aware of health problems that run in your or your partner's family. If certain issues run in your family or if you have had trouble with previous pregnancies, your doctor may recommend genetic counseling. This is a place to discuss risk factors and possibly test for any genetic conditions that could be passed on to your baby.