5 tips to prepare for pregnancy
If you're thinking about getting pregnant, don't wait until you're trying to start planning, says Dr. Marilyn Loh Collado, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at highly rated Riverview Medical Center in Redbank, N.J. The mindset for a healthy pregnancy should start before conception, said Dr. Debra Kirkpatrick, the vice chair for clinical affairs for the Department of Obstetric and Gynecology at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind.
“There are things that ideally should happen beforehand,” said Kirkpatrick, who practices at IU Women’s Healthcare. “A woman should stop smoking, try to reach her ideal weight, and take multivitamins with folic acid,” she said. “The literature is clear that there is a connection between inadequate folic acid and neural tube defects like spina bifida.”
To be ready long before you're showing, follow these tips:
Workout. Being at a healthy weight can reduce your risk of pregnancy complications. Just don't overdo it. Having too little body fat can disrupt ovulation.
Develop a positive outlook. Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat and drink, focus on positive aspects of the pregnancy. “I’d rather look at it from standpoint of things you can do to help yourself have a positive experience,” Bailes said. “Think about your baby and all the wonderful expectations and happy images you have about who’s coming into your life.”
If you smoke or drink now is the time to stop.
See your doctor for a preconception visit. You'll want to talk about medications you're taking, vaccinations, family health history, getting off birth control, prenatal vitamins, and what to expect before, during and after delivery.
Begin taking folic acid two to three months before you plan to become pregnant, says Susan Wysocki, head of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health.