Things You Should Do When Planning for a Baby

A pregnant woman knitting at home
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Planning to get pregnant is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and your baby. By actively pursuing good health, proper nutrition and removing potential harm from your life before conceiving you can increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Planning Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

There are so many things that you might think do not really have any bearing on whether or not you and your partner have a healthy baby, but the more we study, the more we find that what you do before you get pregnant or before you know you're pregnant really does have a huge effect on the health of your pregnancy and baby for a lifetime.

Here are some suggestions for ways to be healthy before you try to get pregnant:

  • Have a preconception checkup. This includes finding a practitioner before you get pregnant. Both you and your partner should be sure to be seen by your primary care providers. This helps you get any chronic conditions diagnosed and/or under control before getting pregnant, which in turn minimizes their effects on your pregnancy and baby.
  • Start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. Prenatal vitamins can help reduce the likelihood of certain types of birth defects, called neural tube defects (NTD), like spina bifida and anencephaly.
  • Begin eliminating hazards from your life (chemicals, x-rays, etc.). Whether it's in your kitchen, where you work or play, there are potential hazards you encounter every day. Knowing what's a hazard and how to avoid it can be helpful.
  • Discontinue smoking, caffeine, and alcohol before trying to get pregnant. Many people think that they will stop once pregnant, but the damage is done. This is true for both partners.
  • Discuss birth control use until you're ready to conceive. Your practitioner can help you decide when to stop using birth control.
  • Learn about the conception process and how to get pregnant. This certainly makes it easier to get pregnant when you both understand how the process works.
  • Have a health insurance "checkup." Does your insurance need revamping before baby? While the vast majority of health insurances will cover pregnancy, you should find out what is covered and what your potential out of pocket expenses would be. Financial planning for pregnancy will help decrease your stress levels.
  • Have your partner join you on a road to good health, including diet and exercise. Both of you working towards a healthy lifestyle make each of you more likely to succeed.
  • Become aware of families you know and their lives. Having these families as role models of both what you want to do and what you don't want to do is beneficial.

About half of all pregnancies are unplanned. By planning your pregnancy, you get a jump start on a whole host of things. This includes a potentially shorter time to get pregnant, a healthier pregnancy, fewer complications, and painful symptoms, as well as time to think about what all of your options are for your pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum.

Remember to bring your partner into this time as well. Their health is just as important to the health of the family as is yours.

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Article Sources
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  1. Stephenson J, Heslehurst N, Hall J, et al. Before the beginning: nutrition and lifestyle in the preconception period and its importance for future health. Lancet. 2018;391(10132):1830-1841.

  2. Tuomainen H, Cross-bardell L, Bhoday M, Qureshi N, Kai J. Opportunities and challenges for enhancing preconception health in primary care: qualitative study with women from ethnically diverse communities. BMJ Open. 2013;3(7). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002977

  3. Al-gailani S. Making birth defects 'preventable': pre-conceptional vitamin supplements and the politics of risk reduction. Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci. 2014;47 Pt B:278-89. doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.10.009

  4. Girum T, Wasie A. Return of fertility after discontinuation of contraception: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Contracept Reprod Med. 2018;3:9. doi:10.1186/s40834-018-0064-y

Additional Reading
  • Hussein N, Kai J, Qureshi N. Eur J Gen Pract. 2015 Nov 26:1-11. The Effects of Preconception Interventions on Improving Reproductive Health and Pregnancy Outcomes in Primary Care: A Systematic Review.