7 steps to take before you start trying for a baby

November 18, 2022 | by Matthew Zuckerman, D.O.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

When you find out you’re pregnant, you get a lot of advice from family and friends. What’s okay and not okay to eat, what symptoms are normal and not normal — all the things you need to know for a healthy pregnancy.

But what information do you need to know before getting pregnant?

It’s important to think things through before you try to conceive. Are you having a baby for the right reasons? Are you and your partner ready for the personal and financial challenges associated with parenting?

Once you are sure you’re ready to have a baby, take these steps to set the foundation for a healthy pregnancy:

  1. Schedule a preconception visit. Before trying to get pregnant, set up an appointment with your primary care physician (PCP), certified nurse-midwife, or OB-GYN. Your care provider will review your personal medical history, any medications you are taking, vaccinations you’ve had, and help stabilize any ongoing medical conditions. There are certain medical issues people can have where we discourage attempting pregnancy as it can put your personal health at risk. This is also a good time to discuss your family medical history and ask about prenatal genetic testing or inherited disorders.
  2. Quit unhealthy habits. If either you or your husband drink heavily, smoke cigarettes, or use recreational drugs, quit now. Don’t wait.  Any of the above can make it more difficult to conceive and puts your child at greater risk for health problems both in utero and after delivery.
  3. Start taking a prenatal vitamin with DHA and folic acid. Low levels of DHA and folic acid during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects of a baby’s neurologic system, which are formed before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Before getting pregnant, women are often advised to take a daily prenatal with 200-300 mg of DHA and at least 400 mcg of folic acid. It’s also important to review any supplements you are taking with your doctor.
  4. Reach a healthy weight. Try to reach your ideal weight before you get pregnant. Being overweight or underweight can make it difficult to conceive and also increases the chances of complications during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and miscarriage.
  5. Create an exercise program. Exercising before you get pregnant and during pregnancy can help you cope better during the pregnancy, as well as during the labor and delivery process. It also makes it easier for you to get back in shape after your baby is born. The benefits of exercise may extend to your growing baby as well.
  6. Clean up your diet. Eat a well-balanced diet with foods rich in protein, fruits, and green leafy vegetables, while being careful not to overconsume large amounts of carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. Hydration is also very important both prior to conceiving as well as during pregnancy, so be sure to be drinking plenty of water. Limit the amount of fish you eat, particularly fish with high levels of mercury. Also limit your caffeine intake, as too much caffeine can create difficulty getting pregnant and may increase the risk of miscarriage. Learn what’s OK and not OK to eat while pregnant.
  7. Reduce stress. Now’s the time to rest, relax and be as stress-free as possible. Practice stress reduction techniques. Ask your doctor about trying yoga and acupuncture, which have been clinically shown to help increase fertility rates, reduce anxiety, and improve mental well-being during pregnancy.

Making the decision to start trying for a baby is a huge milestone. The more physically and mentally prepared you are, the healthier your journey will be. 

The Family Birthing Centers at Edward-Elmhurst Health provide expert care from the minute you decide to have a baby until well after your child is born. Learn more about our pregnancy and baby services.

Find an OB-GYN.

Dr. Matthew Zuckerman, an obstetrician-gynecologist with Elmhurst Clinic, is currently accepting new patients. To make an appointment with Dr. Zuckerman, schedule online or call 331-221-9002.

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