What to Do Before Getting Pregnant

dr. jennifer boyle
By Jennifer Boyle, MD, FACOG Obstetrics & Gynecology | St. Luke's OB-GYN
About the Author:
My philosophy on OB patient care is to try to make people as comfortable as possible during this exciting time. I often try to help people keep an open mind about labor and delivery, especially first time parents. You don’t really know how your body is going to behave during labor until you get there, so we talk about enjoying the process and not worrying too much if things are not exactly as they expected.

Having a baby is a game-changer. Pregnancy and parenthood is rewarding, challenging, exciting, and maybe even a little daunting, all at the same time. But don’t worry, there’s a lot you can do before getting pregnant and while you’re pregnant to get ready for this major life event. Here are the steps I’d recommend as an OB-GYN at St. Luke’s Birthing Center.

1. Healthy Diet

The first step you can take is to be as healthy as possible. The latest guidelines for a healthy diet can be found at MyPlate. Eating the right balance of vegetables, protein, grains and fruit now will help you set a good example for your little one in the future.

2. Healthy Weight

Starting your pregnancy at a healthy weight will help with the pregnancy itself and the delivery. Being overweight can lead to high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm birth, among other concerns. If you’re trying to get down to a healthy weight for your body, start by exercising 200 minutes/week and cutting excess calories at a doctor-recommended pace.

The ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) for women is 18.5 to 24.9 percent. Being underweight can also present challenges, so talk to your doctor about the right weight and BMI for you. If you don’t yet have a doctor, you can get to know some of our providers.

3. Bring on the Vitamins

The third part of leading a healthy pre-pregnancy lifestyle is incorporating vitamins into your diet. Ideally, most vitamins come from good, whole foods you’re eating such as vegetables and protein. Iron and folic acid (400mcg per day) can be used to supplement your diet, providing important vitamins for the health of your baby.

4. Break a Sweat

Regular exercise before conception will allow you to continue excercising while pregnant. Don’t wait to get pregnant to start adding exercise to your schedule. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, start the habits you want to have in the future now.

5. Stop drinking, smoking and using drugs

Finally, if you’re currently smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs, make sure to quit before trying to get pregnant. Healthy pregnancies and babies require the best care of your body and lifestyle. Your partner should join you in foregoing these activities, especially to promote good behaviors for your children.

Overall, living the life you want to live as a parent before even getting pregnant will give you the best chance of a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

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