What Do I Need to Do to Get Ready to Be Pregnant and Have a Healthy Baby?

Getting Healthy Before You Are Pregnant

Whether you are planning to get pregnant or not, there are important things you can do to be as healthy as possible.

Get Ready

  • Be sure to start taking 400 micrograms of Folic Acid daily. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps to prevent birth defects of the baby's brain and spinal cord when taken prior to becoming pregnant and very early in a pregnancy. Once you reach an age where it is possible for you to become pregnant, be sure you take folic acid. Folic acid is also in some common foods. Ask your health care provider about folic acid. View more information about folic acid.

See Your Health Care Provider

See your health care provider for a check up. You should see him or her even if you're not planning on getting pregnant right now. Ask how often you should have a check up. Your health care provider will want to know about:

  • Your family history. Are there any diseases or birth defects in your family? If so, your provider may suggest that you see a genetic counselor or have tests to see whether the disease can be passed on to your baby.
  • Any diseases or conditions you might have and any medications you take. Diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes may affect your pregnancy. Your medicines, such as medicine for asthma, may need to be adjusted. Some medicines may be safer to use than others during pregnancy, so it's important to talk about this with your health care provider. It is important to tell your provider about any over-the-counter medicine, herbs or natural products you may be taking or plan to take.
  • If you are at risk for a sexually transmitted disease. Sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, HIV, gonorrhea and others can not only harm you, but can also harm your baby. You should be tested and treated, if you need to be, before you get pregnant. View more information on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • If you have already had certain diseases, such as chickenpox, or have been vaccinated. Vaccination for measles, chickenpox, mumps and other diseases can protect you and your baby. It is important to discuss this with your health care provider.

Eat Healthy Foods and Exercise

  • Eat healthy foods and get plenty of exercise. Talk to your health care provider about ways to do this. Obesity leads to serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure and can be dangerous for you and your baby. If you are planning to have a baby, talk to your health care provider about how to safely lose weight before you get pregnant. View information about nutrition.

Avoid Products that Can Harm You and Your Baby

  • Smoking poses a great risk to you, your baby and other family members. Ask your health care provider for help to stop smoking. Coaching, nicotine patches, gum, lozenges and other supports are available.
  • When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her baby. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is a range of birth defects which can occur to the baby if a pregnant woman drinks alcohol.
  • Be careful of products that can harm you and your baby, at home and at work. These might include cleaning products, paints and even the litter used by your cat. Discuss any concerns you have with your doctor.
  • Lead can also be very harmful. Lead can be found in the paint and pipes of older homes as well as in some dishes, cosmetics and jewelry. Ask your health care provider to test your lead level. View more information about lead.

Be Safe

  • Be sure you are safe. If your partner hits you, forces you to have sexual activity or scares you, there is help. Getting pregnant sometimes makes violence worse. Whether you are pregnant or not, you should find help so you can be safe. Talk to your health care provider.