Deciding you want to try to have a baby is an exciting time, but it is also accompanied by a whirlwind of questions and concerns. You want to make choices that will keep you and your baby healthy throughout pregnancy – and our Preparing for Pregnancy Checklist below is a great place to start.
How to Prepare for Your Pregnancy
1. Schedule appointments with your primary care physician and OB/GYN.
Taking care of your future child begins with taking care of yourself. Schedule appointments with your primary care physician and OB/GYN to make sure you’re ready to carry a baby.
2. See your dentist.
Pregnancy hormones can increase your likelihood of experiencing tooth decay, gum sensitivity and even gum disease. In some cases, pregnant women can develop a serious gum disease called periodontitis, which can be linked to premature birth, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Reduce your risk of gum disease by scheduling a dental exam to evaluate if your mouth, teeth and gums are healthy enough for pregnancy.
3. Stick to a nutritious, baby-friendly diet.
Though you may not be pregnant yet, your body will be better prepared to carry your baby if you fuel it with nutritious, healthy foods before you conceive. You could also become pregnant any time after you stop taking your birth control, so take a few precautions as soon as you start trying to get pregnant.
Avoid unpasteurized dairy, unpasteurized juices, cold deli meat and raw or undercooked fish and poultry. You should also limit your caffeine intake, and avoid mercury-rich fish such as swordfish, King mackerel and tilefish. Limit white (albacore) tuna to no more than 6 ounces per week. Instead, opt for salmon, trout, herring, pollock and sardines. Drinking alcohol, smoking and drugs should also be eliminated.
4. Reduce your exposure to environmental hazards.
Avoid strong cleaning products, pesticides and solvents as you do basic household tasks. You should also avoid contact with any sort of chemicals or radiation.
5. Stay active.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Your workout doesn’t have to be strenuous. It simply needs to get your heart rate up, and it needs to be something that you know you’ll make time for. Walking, running, cycling or yoga are all popular options.
6. Ask yourself if you want to undergo genetic carrier screenings.
You and your partner can undergo genetic carrier screenings to measure the risk of your child being born with a genetic disorder. Discuss your need for a genetic carrier screening with your doctor.
7. Make sure you’re financially prepared for a child.
In addition to requiring much of your attention and time, a child is also a significant financial responsibility. Learn what questions you should ask yourself to evaluate if you are financially ready for a baby.
8. Make a plan with your physician.
During your preconception appointment with your OB/GYN, your physician will evaluate your current lifestyle, health and medical history to create a conception plan. This will include when you’ll stop your birth control, when you’ll start a prenatal vitamin and how you can address any health issues you may have. Learn more about how you can get the most out of your OB/GYN appointment.
At Baptist Health, we offer you the support and resources you need to prepare yourself for pregnancy. If you’re considering trying to conceive and would like to discuss pregnancy with an expert, request an appointment with an OB/GYN.