A healthy pregnancy begins before you become pregnant. This is known as preconception health. It actually begins long before you even think about motherhood. It is important to learn what you can do now to make sure any future pregnancies are planned and healthy. All women can benefit from some basic pre-pregnancy planning. Women and men should prepare for pregnancy at least three months before getting pregnant. Some actions, such as quitting smoking, reaching a healthy weight, or adjusting medicines you are using, should start even earlier. In addition to talking to your doctor before you get pregnant, the five most important things you can do for preconception health are:
- Take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day if you are planning or capable of pregnancy to lower your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine. This is available over the counter and may be part of a multivitamin you already take.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
- If you have a medical condition, be sure it is under control. Some health conditions can affect pregnancy or be affected by it. Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are using. These include dietary or herbal supplements.
- Be sure your vaccinations are up to date.
- Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials that could cause infection at work and at home. This includes avoiding chemicals and cat or rodent feces.