Pre-Pregnancy Planning

Pre-Pregnancy Planning

Many women practice healthy lifestyle choices when they’re pregnant, but there are several things you can do to increase the chances of a safe pregnancy and healthy baby even before conception. Since it’s hard to know exactly when a woman becomes pregnant, precautions should begin during pre-pregnancy.

Howard Sharp, M.D., University of Utah Health Care Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Planning Ahead

* Visit your doctor within a year before you plan to get pregnant.
* Both parents-to-be may be asked about their medical history.
* If you suffer from a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you may receive information about how this condition will affect you during a pregnancy.
* Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can affect a developing fetus, so your doctor can advise you on what meds should be stopped in advance of conception.
* Women who are overweight may be advised to lose weight before getting pregnant to reduce the chances of complications during pregnancy.

Exercise and Nutrition

* Women hoping to become pregnant should consume a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. You will also need plenty of protein, iron and calcium.
* Women planning on becoming pregnant should take 0.4 mg of folic acid, which helps reduce birth defects.
* Exercise is important but overdoing it can be dangerous or can affect a women’s ability to conceive. Your doctor can advise you about a plan that’s right for you.

Alcohol, drugs, and tobacco

Using alcohol, drugs and tobacco can harm your baby and cause a miscarriage. Avoid these things when trying to conceive.

Odds and Ends

* Certain chemicals or materials in the workplace or at home can be harmful for pregnant women. Your doctor can advise you about what you will need to avoid.
* Soaking in a hot tub can hurt a developing fetus. It can also affect a man’s sperm production.
* Women trying to get pregnant should not change a cat’s litter box, as it may contain a parasite that causes birth defects.

For more information, contact the University of Utah Women’s Health Services at 801-213-4133.

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