Make healthy choices
Taking good care of yourself is the best way to take care of your baby. Pay special attention to the basics:
- Make a preconception appointment. Talk to your health care provider about your overall health and discuss lifestyle changes that might improve your chances for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Address any concerns you might have about fertility or pregnancy. Ask about how to boost the odds of conception — and options if you have trouble conceiving.
- Seek regular prenatal care. Regular prenatal visits help your health care provider monitor your health and your baby's health. Mention any signs or symptoms that concern you. Talking to your health care provider is likely to put your mind at ease.
- Eat a healthy diet. During pregnancy, you'll need more folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin D and other essential nutrients. If you're already eating a healthy diet, keep it up. A daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting a few months before conception — can help fill any gaps.
- Gain weight wisely. Gaining the right amount of weight can support your baby's health — and make it easier to shed the extra pounds after delivery. Work with your health care provider to determine what's right for you.
- Stay active. Regular physical activity can help ease or even prevent discomfort, boost your energy level and improve your overall health. It can also help you prepare for labor and childbirth by increasing your stamina and muscle strength. Get your health care provider's OK before starting or continuing an exercise program, especially if you have an underlying condition.
- Avoid risky substances. Alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs are off-limits during pregnancy. Clear any medications or supplements with your health care provider ahead of time.
- Learn about prenatal testing for chromosomal abnormalities. Ask your doctor about noninvasive prenatal testing, a blood test that examines fetal DNA in the maternal bloodstream to determine whether your baby is at risk of certain specific chromosomal abnormalities. Diagnostic tests such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis provide information about your baby's chromosomes or the risk of specific chromosomal abnormalities, but also carry a slight risk of miscarriage. Your health care provider can help you weigh the risks and benefits.
Look toward the future
The choices you make now — even before conception — can have a lasting effect on your baby. Think of pregnancy as an opportunity to nurture your baby and prepare for the exciting changes ahead.
July 29, 2014
See more In-depth
- National Society of Genetic Counselors Public Policy Committee, et al. Noninvasive prenatal testing/noninvasive prenatal diagnosis: The position of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. National Society of Genetic Counselors. http://www.nsgc.org/Advocacy/PositionStatements/tabid/107/Default.aspx. Accessed Dec. 7, 2012.
- Later childbearing. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2012:1.
- Committee to Reexamine IOM Pregnancy Weight Guidelines, Food and Nutrition Board, and Board on Children, Youth and Families. Weight gain during pregnancy: Reexamining the guidelines. Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. http://www.nap.edu. Accessed May 14, 2014.
- Dietary supplement fact sheet: Folate. National Institutes of Health. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/. Accessed May 16, 2014.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ001. Nutrition during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq001.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140514T1513048965. Accessed May 14, 2014.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ0119. Exercise during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq119.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140514T1515098281. Accessed May 14, 2014.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ177. Gestational diabetes. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq177.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140514T1516570928. Accessed May 14, 2014.
- Age and fertility. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine. http://www.reproductivefacts.org/BOOKLET_Age_And_Fertility/. Accessed May 16, 2014.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ034. High blood pressure during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp034.cfm. Accessed May 14, 2014.
- Saha S, et al. Advanced paternal age is associated with impaired neurocognitive outcomes during infancy and childhood. PLoS Medicine. 2009;6:1.
- Routine prenatal care. Bloomington, Minn.: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. https://www.icsi.org/guidelines__more/catalog_guidelines_and_more/catalog_guidelines/catalog_womens_health_guidelines/prenatal/. Accessed May 16, 2014.
- De Souza E, et al. Case-control analysis of paternal age and trisomic anomalies. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2010;95:893.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ133. Routine tests during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp133.cfm. Accessed May 14, 2014.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice and The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Committee Opinion No. 589: Female age-related fertility decline. Fertility and Sterility. 2014;101:633.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ092. Having twins. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq092.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140514T1520249990. Accessed May 14, 2014.
- Healthy pregnancy — Staying healthy and safe. The National Women's Health Information Center. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/staying-healthy-safe.html. Accessed May 16, 2014.
- Fretts RC. Effect of advanced age on fertility and pregnancy in women. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 16, 2014.
- Joseph KS, et al. The perinatal effects of delayed childbearing. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2005;105:1410.
- Diagnostic tests for birth defects. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2011:1.