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.

Jul. 29, 2014 See more In-depth