Preparing for future pregnancy

Preparing for future pregnancy

Your health matters, whether you are planning for a baby or not. But knowing your health and habits can affect your baby is even more of a reason to make positive lifestyle changes before becoming pregnant.

Preconception care should begin at least three months before you conceive, so it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a doctor as soon as you make the decision to expand your family.

Preconception care for women

Talking to your doctor before conception can improve the chances of becoming pregnant, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and welcoming a healthy baby. You’ll discuss ways you can improve your overall health, such as:

  • Reaching a healthy weight
  • Making healthy food choices
  • Being physically active
  • Caring for your teeth and gums
  • Reducing stress
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Quitting smoking

Additional topics for discussion may include: 

  • Family planning and birth control
  • Folic acid intake
  • Vaccines and screenings
  • Managing existing health problems
  • Medicines you use
  • Illness and how to avoid it
  • Hazards in the workplace or home
  • You or your partner's family health history
  • Problems with prior pregnancies or deliveries
  • Family concerns like domestic violence or lack of support

Preconception care for men

If you’re a man, you should also make changes to improve your own health before fathering a child. Talk to your doctor about your family health history and any medications you use. You can also protect your reproductive health, and that of your partner, by taking the following steps:

  • Getting screened for STIs
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Quitting smoking or using drugs
  • Making healthy food choices
  • Reducing stress
  • Avoiding chemicals or toxins

Drinking, smoking, and drug use can cause problems with sperm production, which may make it harder to achieve pregnancy. Cigarette smoke, as well as other toxins like fertilizers and pesticides, can also have harmful effects.

You and your partner should also make the decision to start trying for a baby together. A woman is more likely to get early prenatal care and avoid risky behaviors when both partners plan for pregnancy.

Did you know

Women should take folic acid every day during pregnancy beginning a month before conception, as recommended by their doctor