If welcoming a baby into the family could be on the horizon for you, there are steps you should take now to ensure the health of your baby – and maybe an easier pregnancy for yourself! Early preparation is important because you probably won't know you're pregnant for three to four weeks after conception. By that point, your baby is already forming major organs and structures. Some medicines, illnesses, or bad habits can affect your baby before you even realize you're expecting.
To be safe, there are a few simple steps to ensure your body is ready for baby:
- The first step should be to see your doctor and discuss your plans for pregnancy. Get a checkup to ensure that you are healthy and your body is ready for the demands of pregnancy.
- Regular, moderate exercise is good for you and should be continued during pregnancy. Do not get overheated, however, and avoid hot tubs in early pregnancy. Make sure your doctor is OK with your exercise plan.
- You should also pay attention to what you are eating. A diet rich with fruits and vegetables, as well as low-fat dairy products, is highly recommended for all women. Foods containing iron and calcium are especially important for pregnant women.
- Folic acid intake is critical. Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should take 400 mg of folic acid every day before and during pregnancy. This important vitamin helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
- It is recommended that women reach the recommended weight for their height prior to getting pregnant. Women who are very overweight or underweight tend to have more complications during pregnancy. However, once you know you are pregnant, your focus should be on eating a healthy diet and not on losing weight.
- Caffeine consumption should also be monitored. If you are a big coffee or caffeinated soda drinker, now is the time to cut back.
- Smoking is never good for you and is especially harmful to an unborn fetus. If you smoke, stop before getting pregnant. Smoking, like alcohol and illegal drugs, can cause birth defects in your baby. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals both at work and at home.
- Be sure you are up to date on your immunizations prior to getting pregnant. Some, like the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) must be given one month prior to getting pregnant. Pregnant women are also considered a high-risk group for the flu, so be sure to talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot.
If you're planning to get pregnant or think you might be pregnant, schedule an appointment with any of our doctors. We are here to help you before, during, and after pregnancy and with any other women's health issues you might have.