Ten things to do before you get pregnant to make sure that you have the healthiest and best pregnancy possible!
It took my husband and I 15 months to get pregnant. Needless to say, I read tons of books and articles about how to get pregnant. And tons of things about what to do before getting pregnant in order to have a healthy pregnancy. There are actually a lot of things you might not think of that are important to do before you start trying to get pregnant.
Today I wanted to share with you some things that you need to be aware of and start doing in order to start your pregnancy off healthy. Pregnancy is not the time to change bad habits. A lot of these are especially important in the first few weeks of pregnancy, and since lots of people don’t know they are pregnant for the first few weeks, you are going to want to do these things BEFORE getting pregnant instead of after you already are pregnant.
1. Start taking a prenatal vitamin. This is actually something my husband is a huge advocate of since he is in medical school. All women of “child-bearing age” should be taking a prenatal vitamin. The most important part of the prenatal vitamin is called folate. Folate is super important in the first weeks of pregnancy because it is key in preventing birth defects of your baby’s spinal cord and brain. And since birth defects occur in the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy (aka, before you know you’re pregnant), it’s important to be taking a prenatal vitamin BEFORE you get pregnant (see here).
2. Lose bad habits. This could be a lot of different things, but I’m mainly talking about smoking and drinking. You can’t do either of those things when you are pregnant, so if you want to be a mom and give your child the best start possible, you need to stop those habits before you start trying to have a baby. Drinking increases the chances of stillbirth and miscarriage, can cause learning problems, and can increase your chances of having a low birthweight baby (see here). Smoking during pregnancy can increase the chances of a lot of health problems like miscarriage, premature birth, and birth defects (see here). So stop smoking and if you drink a lot of alcohol, cut back, or even stop. Because when you are pregnant, you aren’t going to be able to do either of these things and still have a healthy baby.
3. Get in shape. If you need to lose some weight in order to be healthy, now is the time. If you don’t exercise at all, now is the time to start. You can obviously still be overweight and get pregnant, but it won’t be quite as easy. Obese women have a higher risk for miscarriage, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypertension (see here), all of which when added on top of other uncomfortable parts of pregnancy, make it a really difficult time. And if you aren’t taking care of yourself during pregnancy by eating healthy and working out, it’s going to be a lot harder for you after baby is born. So get in shape before you start trying to get pregnant. It will make a huge difference in how comfortable your pregnancy is.
4. Stop taking birth control. I feel like this should be obvious, but most doctors recommend stopping your birth control a few months before you start trying to get pregnant. Most doctors actually say stopping two-three months before trying is the ideal time to stop. It takes a while for the medicine to get out of your system, and you can use other methods of birth control until it’s time to start trying.
5. Slow down on the caffeine. Caffeine is not recommended during pregnancy, and avoiding it is your safest option (see here). So if you are a huge coffee drinker, try to limit yourself to one cup a day at first, and then find something else to help give you more energy (like exercise). Caffeine is a stimulant for you, and it can be a stimulant to your baby, too. I have heard that one cup of coffee a day is fine, but the American Pregnancy Association says no caffeine is a much better option. So slow down on it, and then cut it out. You will have a healthier pregnancy, and you can find other, safer ways to get an energy boost if you need one (but be warned, pregnancy makes you tired either way!).
6. Check your insurance. Being pregnant and having a baby can be expensive if you don’t have good insurance, so check yours and see what kind of things it covers in terms of prenatal care and delivery. You want to know exactly what they are going to cover, and what you are going to have to pay. Because having a baby can be expensive, you want to be prepared. And you should also see if your insurance covers genetic testing and things like that. That way, when you do get pregnant and your OB asks you if you want the tests, you will know if you are going to be paying for them out-of-pocket or if your insurance will cover them!
7. Check your medications. If you are on something that is not recommended during pregnancy (a lot of things aren’t) then you might want to start going off of it and switching to something that is safer. Talk to your doctor if you aren’t sure because he will know. I have insane allergies and I had to stop taking the medicine I was on and find a safer alternative that I could take during pregnancy. It’s always best to stop taking something that could be harmful BEFORE you get pregnant!
8. De-stress. Stress isn’t healthy in any situation, pregnancy included. High levels of stress over a long time (even a few months) can increase your chances of having a premature baby or a low-birthweight baby (see here). So figure out what is causing you stress and find ways to eliminate those things (if possible) or relieve that stress in a healthy way. If yoga or pilates are not your thing, maybe reading or writing is a good way for you to unwind and relax at the end of the day. Everyone is different, so find something you can do every day to eliminate the bad stress in your life. You will relax and be happier, and baby will be healthier when the time comes!
9. Go to the dentist. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase your risk of getting gum disease, so before you decide to get pregnant, go get a checkup! It’s also recommended that routine dental treatment is only given in the second trimester as a precautionary measure (see here), so if you haven’t gotten your teeth cleaned in a while, getting it done before you are pregnant is your best bet.
10. Clean up your diet. If you eat a ton of fast food, lots of junk food, and not a lot of fruits and veggies, you might want to think about cleaning up your diet before you get pregnant. Your baby gets his nutrients from what you eat, so you want to give him the best, right? And since it’s obviously hard to just immediately change when you find out you are pregnant, it’s best to work on it before you get pregnant. You need to eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need (see here), so eating fast food all the time is just not going to cut it. One way to make it easy is just to pretend like you are pregnant and make better choices for the baby that is (soon going to be) in your belly.
Getting healthy and taking care of yourself before you get pregnant is almost as important as it is during pregnancy. And it’s a lot easier to start making these changes before you are pregnant so you can give your baby the best start. You don’t even know you are pregnant for the first few weeks, and since that’s one of the most important times developmentally for your baby, you want to make them the best, right? Hopefully these ten tips will help you prepare to have the best pregnancy possible, and make pregnancy better for you and your baby!
Do you have any other suggestions on things to do before you get pregnant so you will have a healthy pregnancy? Let me know! I would love to hear!