What should you know before you become pregnant?
Getting ready for pregnancy can take a few months, or significantly longer. This guide is to help answer your questions about how to plan for starting a family. Along with these tips, it is important to visit your Little Rock OB/GYN for checkups and for medical advice about starting a family.
Pregnancy stresses the immune system and major organs. Get a physical exam before pregnancy, and take a list of points you want to discuss with your doctor. Expect to discuss the following.
- Nutritional supplements
- Exercises to prepare for pregnancy
- Medical and family history
- Past pregnancies
Proper nutrition is essential to fetal growth and organ development.
- Most of your nutrients should come from food, vs. supplements.
- See the USDA food-planning guide to help you make healthier food choices.
To reduce risks of birth defects, stop smoking, using drugs, and drinking alcohol before pregnancy.
4. Family history
If there are hereditary issues in your, or your partner’s or spouse’s family, your doctor may advise obtaining genetic counseling before you become pregnant.
5. Previous pregnancy
Maintain proper prenatal care. And, tell your doctor if you have had:
- Infant deaths
- Difficulty conceiving (infertility)
- A baby with a birth defect or genetic condition
Weight issues increase the risk of complications in pregnancy, so staying a healthy weight is essential during pregnancy.
- High blood pressure
- Preterm birth
- Gestational diabetes
- Birth defects
- Macrosomia (abnormally large baby)
- Birth injuries
- Cesarean delivery
- Unclear ultrasound monitoring
- Low birth weight
- Labor difficulties
- Baby’s permanent health or behavioral problems
- Premature birth
7. Mental health
Everyone becomes sad, anxious, stressed, or worried sometimes. But, if you find such feelings are interfering with your life, get treatment before getting pregnant. This will
8. Folic acid and iron
- Folic acid: 800 mg daily helps prevent birth defects.
- Iron: increases blood volume that supplies oxygen to your fetus.
Even small amounts of these hazardous substances can impact men’s and women’s reproductive systems, causing difficulty conceiving, or fetal harm. Avoid the following substances that could affect your pregnancy or your baby’s health.
- Chemical solvents
- Rodent or cat feces
Medications, including the following, may cause birth defects. IMPORTANT: Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
- Some prescriptions
- Some over-the-counter medications
- Some vitamin supplements
- Some herbal supplements
Infections during pregnancy can cause birth defects or serious illnesses in an infant. Sexually transmitted infection (STI) can impede conception, or damage health of the fetus.
Get vaccinations at the correct times to help protect you and your baby.
13. Domestic violence
Violence destroys families. Surviving violence can leave emotional and physical damage. If you are being treated violently, or if you behave violently, obtain help before pregnancy.
14. Practical issues
Avoid additional stress during pregnancy, discuss finance, health insurance coverage for pregnancy, family leave, estate planning, sufficient home size, and other practical issues, prior to conceiving.
15. Additional information
For more information about how to plan for starting a family, or to schedule an appointment with a Little Rock OB/GYN, contact The Woman’s Clinic. We have been providing state-of-the-art obstetric and gynecological care to Arkansas women in a comfortable, private setting for over 70 years. Give us a call at 501-664-4131.