Top Ten: Things to Do Before You Get Pregnant
A healthy pregnancy and birth begins before conception. Pre-conception planning is important because a baby’s vital organs are growing during the first several weeks of pregnancy. If you are thinking about having a baby, here are a few tips to consider before you get pregnant that will increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy and birth:
1) Stop taking birth control pills for 2-3 months: Your reproductive system needs a few cycles to get back to normal. In addition this will make it easier to determine when your ovulation occurs.
2) Start taking a multivitamin: According to the March of Dimes, taking a multivitamin with 0.4 to 0.8 mg of folic acid can help reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida.
3) Get sufficient amounts of calcium: When you become pregnant, your body will need enough calcium to support your bones as well as your growing baby’s bones. The recommended amount of calcium intake during pregnancy is 1,200 mg per day, some women may need supplements to reach this ideal.
4) Start Exercising: Consult your physician and start exercising regularly. This will help prevent diabetes during pregnancy, relieve stress, as well as build your stamina for labor and delivery.
5) Make sure vaccines are current: Be sure you have received vaccines for chicken pox, rubella, tetanus and Hepatitis B. Contracting these infections during pregnancy can cause serious problems for you and your unborn baby.
6) Review your medical condition: If you have a chronic medical condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma, make sure it’s under control before you conceive. You may also need to take special care of your condition throughout your pregnancy.
7) Learn you and your partner’s family history: Learn as far back to your grandparents. Check to see if there have been cases of birth defects, genetic disorders, cystic fibrosis, and if your mother and grandmothers had trouble getting pregnant
8) Stop smoking and drinking alcohol: Low birth rate and higher rates of illness such as colds, breathing problems and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) are associated with babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy. The consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can result in birth defects such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a condition which may result in facial deformities, reduced growth and abnormal behavioral development.
9) Get tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections: Many STIs can be transmitted to your baby during pregnancy through the placenta or during delivery via the birth canal. Some STIs can increase the risk of infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
10) Start a nutrition plan: Gaining excess weight during a pregnancy and not losing enough after can increase your health risks. Starting a balanced diet before you conceive prepares your body to healthily gain and lose your baby weight during and after pregnancy.
Following these tips will help reduce the risk of birth defects and assure the best possible birth conditions. Healthy birth outcomes and early identification and treatment of health conditions promotea healthy childhood and development. Do what you can for your baby NOW before they are even conceived, but find comfort in the fact that 97% of babies are born healthy.