Pre-pregnancy planning can help make conception and pregnancy healthier for mom and baby. Even if you do not plan to get pregnant within the next year, you can still take steps to make sure you and your partner are as healthy as possible for when you are ready.

Here are some ways you can plan for your pregnancy:

  • Schedule A Doctor’s Appointment
    • It is important for both you and your partner to have a doctor’s appointment to check on your health before you are ready to conceive
      • Come to your appointment with a list of questions.
      • Be prepared to discuss your medical history, including your menstrual cycle.
      • Know your partner’s medical history and both of your families’ histories as well.
      • Talk to your doctor about vaccinations. Some are recommended at different stages of conception and pregnancy for you and your partner.
      • Taking some medications during pregnancy can cause some serious birth defects. Talk to your doctor about which medications you are currently taking and if they are safe for you and your baby during pregnancy.
      • Talk to your doctor about whether you have risk factors for diabetes and should be tested. Many people with diabetes don’t know they have it and high blood sugars from untreated diabetes can cause serious birth defects in the first weeks of a pregnancy.
    • While you’re already making a doctor’s appointment, make one for your dentist. It has been shown that good oral health is linked to a healthy pregnancy.
    • If you are not planning on having children in the near future, it is still important to talk to your physician to discuss the best method of birth control for you and your partner.
  • Quit Smoking and Drinking
    • It is common knowledge that smoking and drinking alcohol are not safe during pregnancy, but they also can inhibit fertility.
    • If you struggle with stopping these habits, talk to your physician about programs to help you quit.
  • Limit Your Caffeine
    • Caffeine also can play a factor in conception. Ideally, you should have less than two cups of coffee or five cans of soda a day (250 milligrams).
  • Live Healthy
    • Preparing for a pregnancy is a good time to stop eating junk food and start eating more fruits, vegetables and protein.
    • Exercising will help you get to or maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy and also is recommended for most women throughout pregnancy. Don’t try taking on new strenuous activities if your body isn’t used to it already.
    • Begin taking 400 micrograms of folic acid (a B vitamin) at least one month prior to pregnancy and throughout it. Folic acid can help prevent major birth defects of the brain and spine which are formed in the first six weeks after conception.

Taking steps to become as healthy as you can be before pregnancy can lead to a healthier pregnancy. No matter what your reproductive health plan looks like, keep open communication with your primary care physician so everyone is on the same page.

When you are ready to have your baby, the BirthCare Center at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach delivers 6,000 babies each year and offers a comprehensive program, including educational resources, family classes, and individual and family support programs.