Many women do not know they are pregnant until several weeks after they have conceived. Therefore, planning for the event by making sure you are as healthy as possible before you become pregnant will benefit both your health and the health of your baby. The early weeks of pregnancy are some of the most critical ones for the fetus since during this time, organs are formed.
If you are planning to become pregnant, be sure to let your provider know. This will allow your obstetrician to evaluate your medical history and begin to identify any high-risk factors you may have. Medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease should all be discussed with your physician as they can affect your health or your baby’s health during the pregnancy. Each of these could affect your health or your baby’s health throughout your pregnancy and would need special care during your pregnancy.
If these conditions are identified prior to your becoming pregnant, your obstetrician can help you get them under control before you become pregnant. Additionally, you should tell your provider about any medications you are taking, any problems you may have had during previous pregnancies and any conditions that are significant among family members since certain disorders can be inherited.
Your physician will also discuss lifestyle and nutritional issues with you. A balanced diet is good for your health at all times in your life. During your pregnancy what you eat supports the growth of your fetus, therefore a healthy diet is even more important before and during your pregnancy. Folic acid can also help reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Folic acid can be found in the following foods:
- Leafy, dark green vegetables
- Citrus fruits
Supplements can also be taken. The use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs can harm both you and your fetus. No amount of these substances has been proven safe to use, especially during the early days of pregnancy.
Stay physically fit. If you follow a fitness routine before you conceive, you can improve your chances for a comfortable and active pregnancy. Additionally, many types of exercise may be continued during pregnancy if you are in good shape and were accustomed to the exercise before pregnancy.
Finally, be safe. Victims of domestic violence before pregnancy are often victims during pregnancy. In fact, the American Medical Association reports that about 37% of women are physically abused while pregnant. If you are being abused, tell your medical provider or contact a domestic violence intervention program for help.