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Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy - Topic Overview

Even though you're not pregnant yet, you might already be thinking about which room to turn into the baby's room and how to decorate it. And you might be making lists of all the baby clothes and supplies that you'll need. But it's also a good time to take some steps to help yourself have a happy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Now more than ever, it's smart to get regular exercise, eat healthy foods, and drink plenty of water, as well as to reduce or stop drinking caffeine. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs. When possible, avoid using medicines, including over-the-counter medicines. Always talk to your doctor first before you stop or start any medicines.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free women’s preventive services, including mammograms, birth control and well-woman visits. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

If you are not sure when you are most likely to get pregnant (when you are fertile), use the Interactive Tool: When Are You Most Fertile? calculator.gif

If you haven't yet chosen a health professional for pregnancy, childbirth, and after-birth (postpartum) care, give some thought to your many options. For more information, see Choosing Your Health Professional for Pregnancy Care.

Stopping birth control

If you use an intrauterine device (IUD), arrange to have it removed. If you have been taking the Pill (oral contraception) or using birth control shots (such as Depo-Provera), try to wait until you've had your first full menstrual period before you try to conceive. This may take up to 1 year.

Keep track of your menstrual periods

Understanding how pregnancy occurs and using fertility awareness can help increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Keep track of your menstrual cycle and when you have sexual intercourse. This information will help in figuring out your due date and your fetus's gestational age after you become pregnant.

Talk to your doctor about your medicines

Before trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about any medicines or dietary supplements you are taking. You and your doctor may decide that it's best to stop taking the medicine, to take a different medicine, or to keep taking it.

Eat well

  • Choose healthy foods instead of junk food. Eat a balanced diet. Pregnancy is not the time to lose weight. If you want to lose weight, do it before becoming pregnant. Don't go on a crash diet, because you may end up with a nutritional deficiency that could be harmful to you or the baby.
  • Take a daily vitamin-mineral supplement. Taking a supplement that contains 0.4 mg to 0.8 mg (400 mcg to 800 mcg) of folic acidbefore becoming pregnant reduces the chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect.
    • If you have a family history of neural tube defects, have had a previous infant with a neural tube defect, or are on medicines to prevent seizures, take a daily supplement containing 4 mg (4000 mcg) of folic acid.
    • You also need other vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, for your health and that of your baby.

For more information on how to eat well, see the topic Healthy Eating.

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