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Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy - Topic Overview

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 acid before 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.

Make lifestyle changes

  • Quit smoking. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Cut down on caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, and cola drinks.
  • Stop drinking alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can severely harm a developing fetus.
  • Stop any use of illegal drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana. Cocaine may cause serious problems in pregnancy, including placenta abruptio, fetal distress, and preterm labor.
  • Get plenty of exercise.Exercise is good for healthy pregnant women. Try to do at least 2½ hours a week of moderate exercise.1, 2 One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week. For more information, see the topic Fitness: Getting and Staying Active.

Get a checkup

If any problems or needs are found, deal with them early. Make sure you are fully immunized to prevent potential fetal harm. For example, if you have never had German measles (rubella) or the rubella vaccination or are unsure, tell your doctor. If a blood test shows that you have no immunity, you can be vaccinated. You should then wait at least 3 months after being vaccinated before you try to get pregnant.

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