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Before You Get Pregnant
If you are thinking about getting pregnant, our preconception counseling can help you determine which health changes you need to make before you begin trying to not only improve your chances of getting pregnant, but also ensure a healthier pregnancy and baby.
Smoking decreases fertility (in both men and women) and puts babies at higher risk for early birth and low birth weight. It can also contribute to high blood pressure and complications in pregnancy. Babies born in households where one or both parents smoke have higher rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Cold turkey is best, but it is ok to use the over-the-counter nicotine patches, gum or lozenges to help. You may be a candidate for prescription treatments to help quit smoking (such as ZYBAN or CHANTIX) but these medications are not safe in pregnancy.
TAKE A PRENATAL VITAMIN DAILY!
Prenatal vitamins contain folic acid which can help prevent defects of the brain and spine (known as “Neural Tube Defects”). Because the brain and spine begins forming before your pregnancy test is positive, you should start taking folic acid 2-3 months before attempting pregnancy. Look for an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin with at least 800 mcg of folic acid daily. You can also find folic acid alone as a supplement to add to your current multivitamin.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT AND START AN EXERCISE REGIMEN!
Being overweight or obese can decrease fertility by interfering with normal ovulation. Body fat produces additional hormones that disrupt the menstrual cycle. Being overweight or obese during pregnancy increases your risk for high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy as well as increasing your risk of a c-section.
Start eating a more healthful diet by including fruit and vegetables at every meal, low fat dairy products and whole grains. Begin an exercise program – it can be as simple as a walk around the block after dinner. Be a role model for your future child! Parents are the single most important influence on their child's health, nutrition and weight.
GET A CHECK UP!
If you have a medical condition such as blood pressure, diabetes, lupus or seizures, the medication you take to help with your condition could be harmful to a developing fetus. Reducing the dosages of your medication or changing to a medication safer for pregnancy can help avoid these risks.
If you have had a high-risk pregnancy in the past or have multiple medical problems, your doctor may recommend a visit with a Perinatologist or Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist. These physicians are Ob/Gyns who have completed additional training and are experts in complicated or high-risk pregnancy.
AVOID ALCOHOL AND DRUGS!
Alcohol is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation in the US. The developing fetus is very sensitive to the effects of alcohol and other drugs, especially in early pregnancy. If you are trying to get pregnant, avoid alcohol and other drugs. If you think you have a problem with alcohol or illicit drugs, let your doctor know so we can get you the treatment you need.