Planning Before Pregnancy
Many couples start trying to get pregnant months before it actually happens. During this time, a concept called “preconception planning” will help ensure that your baby gets the best possible start in life.
Preconception planning is based on the notion that, even before you realize you are pregnant, your baby has begun to develop. The tiny clump of cells that has implanted in your uterus is already developing body parts. It is important to optimize your pregnancy, therefore, from the very first days.
There are several things you can do. First, visit your doctor as soon as you decide to have a baby. Your doctor can evaluate your overall health status and give you all the “dos and don’ts” of a healthy pregnancy from the start. For instance:
- Eat right. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water are good for you — and your baby.
- Maintain proper body weight. If you’re overweight, try to lose those extra pounds before you try to conceive. Being overweight makes pregnancy more difficult and hazardous, and it’s not a good idea to skimp on calories or nutrition during pregnancy.
- Cut back on or abstain from alcohol. Heavy drinking can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, and even moderate drinking (one to two drinks a day) has not been established as safe.
- Stop smoking. Women who smoke have a higher risk of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, vaginal bleeding, miscarriage, stillbirths, premature and underweight babies, and C-sections.
- Take a multivitamin with folic acid. This B vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida (which happens when the spinal cord does not close). Good sources of this vitamin are orange juice, frozen spinach, and dry lentils. Start taking folic acid supplements at least a month before conception.
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