Why is it important to prepare for pregnancy? You probably won’t know you are pregnant for the first three to four weeks. By then, you baby is already forming major organs and structures. Some medicines, illnesses, or bad habits (like smoking or drinking alcohol) can affect your baby before you even know you are pregnant. To be safe, you should act like you are already pregnant before you try to get pregnant.
Should I take vitamins?
Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid (a B vitamin) every day before you become pregnant and during early pregnancy helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. It is safe to take a daily multivitamin tablet. Avoid high doses of vitamins because they can be harmful. Do I need to change by diet? You should eat a balanced diet with foods rich in folic acid, such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, oranges, and bananas. Your diet should also include enough iron and calcium. Do not drink more than two cups of coffee or six glasses of tea or soda per day. Try to reach a healthy weight before pregnancy. Women who are very overweight or underweight may have more problems with pregnancy.
What else should I avoid?
You should avoid toxic substances and chemicals at work and at home. Smoking cigarettes increases your risk for miscarriage or having a baby with a low birth weight. Alcohol and illegal drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and heroin can cause birth defects or other problems in your baby.
Do I need any immunizations?
If you are not immune to rubella, you will need a booster shot of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) at least one month before you get pregnant. If you have never had chickenpox, you should have two injections of this vaccine at least one month before pregnancy. You may need the series of three hepatitis B vaccines if you have not had them, before. A flu shot is also recommended for pregnant women, usually between October and December.
What if I have health problems?
If you take any medications regularly, ask your doctor if you can take them when you are pregnant. If you have diabetes, hypertension, asthma, or epilepsy, the conditions should be well controlled before pregnancy.
See your doctor.
Get a checkup from your doctor before you try to get pregnant. Your doctor will ask you and the baby’s father about your medical and family histories. You can discuss your pregnancy plans with your doctor and ask questions.
By: Dr. Oliver E Carolta, MD