Published on Tuesday, July 25, 2017
So, you’re thinking of getting pregnant…
By Dr. Cory Miller, OB-GYN at Progress West Hospital
So, you’re thinking of getting pregnant? This can be such a joyous and challenging time, full of both hopes and anxieties. It’s a great time to set the stage for a healthy pregnancy, preparing as much as possible to reduce risks during your pregnancy.
I’ll share some helpful tips for preparing to conceive, but you may want to see your OB-GYN or primary care provider before you start trying. This way your provider can address health concerns for you specifically.
- Start your prenatal vitamin now! There are so many important vitamins and minerals moms need during their pregnancies, and having healthy stores before getting pregnant will make sure we’re not playing catch up. Iron and vitamin B12 are important for preventing low blood counts, folic acid is important for baby’s brain development, and vitamin D and calcium are important for the baby’s developing bones, just to name a few. Additionally, women who are taking prenatal vitamins before pregnancy may have less nausea and vomiting during their first trimester.
- Get any other health conditions under control. Diabetes, high blood pressure, low or high thyroid, and many other conditions can have an effect on your pregnancy and baby’s development. Getting these conditions under excellent control before getting pregnant will help set you up for your best pregnancy. Talking to your doctor before pregnancy can also make sure that any medications you’re on are safe for a developing baby. We would never want you taking an unsafe medication knowing you’re trying to get pregnant!
- Are you a smoker? It’s a great time to quit, and you have more options for help from your doctor if you quit before you’re pregnant. Smoking raises risks of all sorts of pregnancy complications, but especially preterm birth and low birth weights (that is, having a dangerously small baby who needs help adjusting to life outside the womb). Even after delivery, babies born to moms who smoke are more likely to have asthma, colic, obesity, and sadly, sudden infant death (SIDS). Lots of resources are available to help quit, including medications, nicotine replacement, and free hotlines for counseling.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ok, this one is hard, I know, but obesity may increase risks of so many problems during pregnancy. Overweight women may find it harder to become pregnant in the first place. They will also be at higher risk of preterm birth, birth defects, diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy, and more likely to need a cesarean section. Babies born to obese women may also have higher risks of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure when they grow up! Achieving a healthy weight can reduce all of these risks, and ensure the best chance for a healthy mom and baby throughout.
- How are your shots? Many preventable infections like chickenpox and rubella can be devastating to a developing baby. Talk to your doctor about what vaccines you may need before getting pregnant to protect you and your baby.
- Make sure your Pap smear is up to date. Pre-cancer of the cervix is easiest and best treated outside of pregnancy, so being screened before conception is important for your long-term health.
- Are there medical problems that run in your family? Some disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, and muscular dystrophy can be inherited from our families and passed on to our children. If you have a family member born with a medical condition, blood test screening for you and your partner may be important so you can know your risks, if any, of passing it on to your children
This is just a quick list of recommendations to make sure you’re as ready for a healthy pregnancy as you can possibly be. Medical care is always best when it’s personal, so talk to your doctor before trying to get pregnant; he or she can give advice for your specific health conditions.
Cory Miller, MD, is a board-certified physician who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. He practices and delivers at Progress West Hospital. To make an appointment, call 855-747-5400 or book an appointment .
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