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Getting Pregnant On Your Timeline: Your To-Do List

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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Melinda Miller-Thrasher, MD

Trying to conceive? Use this to-do list for a healthy pregnancy.

  1. Visit your doctor for a prepregnancy checkup. Your doctor will let you know how your lifestyle, diet, weight, medications, and medical history can affect your chances of getting pregnant. She may also recommend changes you can make to increase your odds of getting pregnant sooner.
  1. Begin taking folic acid and prenatal vitamins. Start at least a month before you're planning to get pregnant to lower the chances of certain birth defects. Most prenatal vitamins contain at least the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid, so you might only need one pill.
  1. Tell your doctor which over-the-counter and prescription drugs you take. Some drugs aren't good for a baby, so your doctor will prescribe you safer alternatives. Don't forget about any medicines you buy without a prescription and dietary supplements, even if they're natural.
  1. If you smoke and/or drink alcohol, quit. Don't smoke or drink. That will help prevent certain birth defects and other problems. Ask your doctor for help if you need it.
  1. Improve your diet. Put good-for-you foods in your body when you're trying to make a baby. If you tend to snack on junk food, keep fruit at home and stash healthy snacks at work so you don't reach for cookies or chips.
  1. Get to a good weight. If you're overweight or underweight, ask your doctor how to reach a healthier weight before trying to get pregnant. You'll lower your chances of having problems like gestational diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy.
  1. Look for prenatal exercise classes. Keeping active is important during pregnancy. Some exercises and fitness classes aren't safe during pregnancy, so it's better to find classes aimed at pregnant women. Walking and swimming are healthy, and can generally be done throughout your pregnancy as well as in the postpartum period. Be sure to discuss it with your doctor.
  1. See your dentist for a cleaning. Don't neglect your teeth and gums when you're trying to get pregnant. Your gums might bleed more than usual during pregnancy, so regular cleanings can help keep your mouth healthy.
  1. Limit caffeine. Some caffeine is probably OK. Too much, though, can hamper sleep. One 12-ounce cup of coffee (200 milligrams of caffeine) should be your daily limit.
  1. Be choosy about seafood. It's fine to eat seafood twice a week, but some fish and shellfish are higher in mercury, which can harm a growing baby. Avoid swordfish, mackerel, shark, tilefish, and albacore tuna. Opt for shrimp, salmon, catfish, or other low-mercury varieties.

Reviewed on March 29, 2013
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