If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, it is never too soon to start taking healthy steps for you and your baby-to-be. There are things you can do today to help reduce health risks for the both of you and increase your likelihood of healthy pregnancy.
The first few weeks of pregnancy are crucial in a child’s development. However, many women do not realize they are pregnant until several weeks after conception. Planning ahead and taking care of yourself before becoming pregnant is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.
One of the most important steps in helping you prepare for a healthy pregnancy is a pre-pregnancy exam (often called preconception care) performed by your health care provider. This exam may include:
- Family medical history. A review of your parents’ medical history to help determine if you are at risk of any medical conditions or genetic testing may be recommended
- Personal medical history. A review of your personal medical history to determine if you have any conditions (such as diabetes or heart disease) that may need special care during pregnancy.
- Vaccine status. A review of current vaccines to ensure protection for you and your baby in pregnancy.
- Infection screening. Determining if you have any infections that could be harmful to you or your baby.
Other steps that can help reduce the risk of complications and help prepare for a healthy pregnancy and delivery include:
- Smoking cessation
- Proper diet
- Proper weight and exercise
- Medical management of pre-existing conditions
- Intake of folic acid for prevention of birth defects
- Daily vitamins
- Avoiding exposure to harmful substances
It is important to speak with your health care provider before taking any steps to become pregnant. Together you can develop a plan based on your specific needs.