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Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy - Topic Overview

Make lifestyle changes

  • Quit smokingQuit 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.

As a part of your physical checkup, you may want to ask for a prepregnancy exam. Such an exam can help you find out risks to you or your potential children from pregnancy. This knowledge may help you decide whether you wish to see a family medicine doctor or midwife for your care during pregnancy or whether you require the care of a specialist. It may also help you decide what tests you want to have done during pregnancy.

If you have a condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, be sure to talk with your doctor about what this means for your pregnancy. Find out what you need to do to manage your condition and be ready for pregnancy.

See your dentist

Have fillings or other dental work done, if needed, before you become pregnant. If you have periodontal (gum) disease, have it treated before you become pregnant.

Consider genetic testing

Talk to your doctor about whether to have screening tests for diseases that are passed down through your family (genetic disorders). You may want to have a screening test if you or your partner has a family history of genetic disorders or if certain genetic disorders are more common among people of your racial or ethnic background. Screenings for genetic disorders include those for:

  • Sickle cell disease, which is most common in people of African descent.
  • Tay-Sachs disease, which is most common in people with an Ashkenazi Jewish, Cajun, or French Canadian background.
  • Cystic fibrosis, which is most common in people with a Caucasian, European, or Ashkenazi Jewish background.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 23, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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