Your Pre-Pregnancy Checkup
Other Considerations During Pre-Pregnancy
Your doctor will probably recommend some other measures to take if you're trying to conceive:
- Take 0.4 mg of folic acid every day. Folic acid, which naturally occurs in leafy green vegetables and artificially in fortified flour and rice products, has been shown to lower the risk of certain birth defects. Experts recommend that in addition to a good diet, you should take a multivitamin with folic acid daily for three months before pregnancy and at least three months into pregnancy. If you've had a previous pregnancy in which the fetus had birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, your doctor will probably recommend a higher dose of 4 mg of folic acid daily.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Not only should you stop taking any illicit drugs, but you should also talk with your doctor about whether you should continue taking any other medications or herbal supplements.
- Stop smoking. Smoking can make it harder to get pregnant, and it poses risks to the fetus.
- Eat well and exercise. Being over- or underweight can increase risks during pregnancy. Your doctor may also recommend that you avoid certain kinds of fish, such as swordfish, king mackerel, and shark, because they may contain mercury that can cause problems in pregnancy.
- Go to the dentist. There is research that suggests gum disease -- an infection of the gums caused by plaque -- may increase the risk of delivering preterm or low-birth-weight weight babies. It's important for women trying to conceive to treat gum disease if they have it and, if they don't, to practice good oral hygiene to prevent it from developing.
- Think about the changes that having a baby will bring before you get pregnant. Having a child will affect everything in your life -- your career, your finances, and your relationship with your spouse or partner, among other things. Nine months can be a pretty short time to figure all of those issues out, so your doctor may be able to give some advice that will help get you ready. Your doctor may also suggest preconception classes at a local hospital if they're available.