We hear a lot these days about the impact of the mother’s diet, obesity, medications, exercise, diseases, and genetic influences on the pregnancy outcome. As a result, we as providers want to work with women well before pregnancy occurs to help lay the groundwork for a healthy and successful pregnancy. A pre-conception visit with your provider to discuss your plans for pregnancy will prove quite valuable in helping you identify risk factors and make any necessary changes in medications or diet and exercise before getting pregnant.
The following tips developed by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) provides valuable information about things that you can do immediately, and things to discuss with your provider during that visit. It also has some excellent resource information.
By the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
5 Steps to Get Ready for a Healthy Pregnancy
1. Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day for at least 1 month before getting pregnant to help prevent birth defects.
2. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
3. If you have a medical condition, be sure it is under control. Some conditions include asthma, diabetes, oral health, obesity, or epilepsy. Also be sure that your vaccinations are up to date.
4. Talk to a health care professional about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are taking. These include dietary or herbal supplements.
5. Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials that could cause infection at work and at home. Stay away from chemicals and cat or rodent feces.
Click on the links below for info on getting ready for a healthy pregnancy.
Preconception Care: Learn why it’s important to be healthy before getting pregnant. Learn how to create a reproductive life plan. And find out what your health care provider should do at regular pre-pregnancy visits.
Folic Acid: Folic acid is a B vitamin that can help prevent major birth defects. Take a vitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day, starting before you become pregnant.
Smoking during pregnancy is the single most preventable cause of illness and death among mothers and infants. Learn more about the dangers of smoking and find help to quit before you get pregnant.
Alcohol: When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her unborn baby. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. If you’re planning a pregnancy, stop drinking alcohol now.
Diabetes: Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the chance for birth defects and other problems for your baby. It can cause serious complications for you, too.
High Blood Pressure: Existing high blood pressure can increase the risk of problems when you become pregnant.
Bleeding Disorders: Bleeding and clotting disorders can cause serious problems for women. These problems include heavy menstrual bleeding (a disorder called menorrhagia), bleeding and clotting complications in pregnancy, and miscarriage. If you have a bleeding disorder or have heavy menstrual bleeding, talk to your health care provider.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Learn about the harmful effects of STDs and find out how to protect yourself and your baby against infection.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) – Chlamydia – Genital Herpes – Gonorrhea – Hepatitis – Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) –Syphilis – Trichomoniasis
Vaccinations: Talk to your doctor about vaccinations (shots). Many are safe and recommended before and during pregnancy, but some are not. Having the right vaccinations at the right time can help keep you and your baby healthy.
Medications: Taking certain medications during pregnancy might cause serious birth defects for your baby. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any medications you are taking. These include prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements.
Violence can lead to injury and death among women in any stage of life, including during pregnancy. Learn more about violence against women.
Click here to find out where to get help for yourself or someone else.
Genetics and Family History
Genetics: Understanding genetic factors and genetic disorders is important in learning more about preventing birth defects, developmental disabilities, and other unique conditions in children.
Genetic Testing: Before you become pregnant, you might get blood tests (genetic tests) for certain inherited diseases. You and your partner can be tested to see if you carry a gene that is linked with a disease that could be passed on to your children.
Family History: Family members share their genes and their environment, lifestyles, and habits. A family history can help you learn about possible disease risks for you and your baby.
Genetic Counselor: Your doctor might suggest that you see a genetic counselor if you have a family history of a genetic condition or have had several miscarriages or infant deaths.