A healthy baby starts with good health habits before pregnancy, also called preconception care. Our OB/GYNs are all board certified by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which provides some helpful guidelines for good health before pregnancy begins.
Some of the things you can do to plan for a healthy pregnancy are:
- If you are overweight or underweight, attain a healthy weight before pregnancy.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Take prenatal vitamins, making sure to get 400 to 800 micrograms (400 to 800 mcg) of folic acid every day for at least three months before getting pregnant to lower your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine.
- Stop unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and illegal drug use. These substances can be very harmful to you, and your growing baby.
- If you have a medical condition, be sure it is under control. Some conditions include asthma, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, obesity, thyroid disease, or epilepsy. Be sure your vaccinations are up to date.
- Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials at work and at home that could be harmful. Stay away from chemicals and cat or rodent feces.
- Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the best ways to prepare for pregnancy.
If you use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, now is a good time to quit. If you need help, tell your health care provider. Your partner should also quit using harmful substances. Some studies have found that if your partner smokes, drinks, or uses drugs, it can lower his fertility, damage his sperm, and have a harmful effect on the fetus. Living with someone who smokes also means that you are likely to breathe in harmful amounts of secondhand smoke.
What is prenatal care?
Prenatal care is the health care you get while you are pregnant. Take care of yourself and your baby by:
- Getting early prenatal care. If you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, call your doctor to schedule a visit.
- Getting regular prenatal care. Your doctor will schedule you for many checkups over the course of your pregnancy. Don’t miss any — they are all important.
- Following your doctor’s advice.
Why do I need prenatal care?
Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly. This allows doctors to treat them early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others. Doctors also can talk to pregnant women about things they can do to give their unborn babies a healthy start to life.
Where can I go to get free or reduced-cost prenatal care?
Women in every state can get help to pay for medical care during their pregnancies. This prenatal care can help you have a healthy baby. Every state in the United States has a program to help. Programs give medical care, information, advice, and other services important for a healthy pregnancy.
To find out about the program in your state:
- Call 800-311-BABY (800-311-2229). This toll-free telephone number will connect you to the Health Department in your area code.
- For information in Spanish, call 800-504-7081