Your Health Before Pregnancy

Your Health Before Pregnancy

 

Planning a pregnancy with someone that you love can be exciting and rewarding. There are many things for you and your partner to consider before you become pregnant. Careful planning can increase the chance of having a healthy baby. This is called preconception care.

Pre-pregnancy checkup

You and your partner should visit your doctor before you become pregnant. Making sure you are healthy before you get pregnant is good for both you and your baby. Your health care provider will likely do an exam and may order lab tests.

Come prepared to talk about these things at your pre-pregnancy checkup:

  • Any health problems you have now so you can get them under control, such as high blood pressure, thyroid problems, asthma, or diabetes.
  • Any surgeries or hospital stays you have had in the past.
  • Your menstrual history, Pap smear results, birth control use, vaginal infections, or any sexually transmitted infections you have had.
  • Family history of health problems.
  • Any medicines you are taking, including prescription, over the counter, vitamin, or herbal products. Some medicines may need to be changed or stopped before becoming pregnant.
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or recreational drugs by you or your partner.
  • If where you live or work exposes you to chemicals, cat feces, rodents, or other things that can impact pregnancy.
  • Caffeine intake each day. You may be told to limit caffeine to no more than 300 milligrams (mg) each day or 2 (8-ounce) cups of coffee, tea, or soft drinks with caffeine.
  • Vaccines you have had to be sure you are protected from things that can hurt your pregnancy.
  • Your risk of having a baby with birth defects or genetic problems because of your family history or your age.

Keep yourself healthy

  • Start taking a daily prenatal vitamin or multivitamin with folic acid 3 to 6 months before trying to get pregnant.
  • Eat a variety of foods that are high in B vitamin (folate), fiber, calcium, and other nutrients. Include fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Limit foods high in fat and sugar.
  • Drink plenty of water each day. Aim for 8 (8-ounce) cups each day.
  • Try to be at your ideal body weight before getting pregnant.
  • Get 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 4 days per week, unless your doctor told you to limit your activity. Brisk walking is a good exercise. Talk to your doctor about other exercises you can do.
  • If you have any dental work that needs to be done, it is a good idea to do it before you are pregnant. It is best to avoid x-rays when you are pregnant.
  • Talk to your health care provider about food safety, such as cooking meat thoroughly and limiting fish. Some types of seafood can contain mercury, causing it to build up in your body.
  • Avoid alcohol, recreational drug use, and tobacco.

If there is a risk of Zika

If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider about your risk of Zika infection. Follow steps to prevent mosquito bites if you or your partner travel to an area where Zika is spreading. Wait to try to get pregnant if you or our partner may have been exposed to Zika.

Get the vaccines you need

Update your vaccines before becoming pregnant using these guidelines:

  • Tdap booster if you have not had one in 10 years.
  • Rubella vaccine if you are not immune to German measles. Avoid becoming pregnant for one month after getting this vaccine.
  • Varicella vaccine if you have not had a chicken pox infection. Avoid becoming pregnant for one month after getting this vaccine.

Your doctor may recommend other vaccinations, such hepatitis B or flu to protect your health.

Your safety and emotional health

  • Get help if someone is violent, abusive, threatening, or controlling you.
  • Get help if you have feelings of sadness, anxiety, or stress that get in the way of your daily life.
  • Make sure you have the support you need. Talk with your partner about your desire to have a baby. If you are not in a stable, committed relationship, think about if you are ready to raise your baby alone and who can help you.

Health of your finances

Understand what resources you will have to support a pregnancy, like insurance coverage, where you will get health care, and how you will handle the extra expenses of a baby. Think about if you plan to stay home with the baby or the cost of childcare. Plan out your budget, what your expenses will be, how much income or savings you will have, and what resources you can use.

© 2006 - July 8, 2019, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk to your doctor or health care team if you have any questions about your care. For more health information, call the Library for Health Information at 614-293-3707 or email: health-info@osu.edu.