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How to Prepare for Pregnancy

  • Category: Living Well
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Cheryl Tschirn, RN, BSN

The benefits of prenatal care are well known. Once women know they are pregnant, appointments are scheduled with their healthcare provider to ensure that both mom and baby are healthy. But it is also important to be in the best health possible before pregnancy in order to have the healthiest outcome for mother and baby. Here are a few things you should do to plan for a healthy pregnancy:

Meet with your Healthcare Provider

As part of the visit, you will discuss your health and plans for pregnancy with your provider. Your provider will review:

  • Current medications that you are taking, such as over the counter, prescription or herbal medications and determine if they are approved for pregnancy.
  • Your family history. If you have been pregnant before, your provider will review your last pregnancy (ex: history of birth defects/preterm birth/ recurrent miscarriage).
  • Your work and home environment to see if anything will affect your pregnancy.
  • If you have any chronic health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, mental health issues, asthma, diabetes, abnormal thyroid function and high blood pressure, your provider will work with you to keep those conditions in good control.
  • You will be updated on immunizations to protect against hepatitis B, rubella and varicella.

If you do not already have one, many providers are happy to schedule a “meet and greet” to discuss your plans for pregnancy and to see if you both are on the same page. As Touro’s OB Navigator, I can assist women in selecting a provider that meets their needs.

One of the many things that I like about Touro is how we work with women to become a partner in their labor and delivery experience. It is truly a privilege to be part of such an important part in a woman’s life.

Make Positive Choices

  • Begin taking prenatal vitamins. Take at least 400mcg of folic acid for prevention of neural tube defects.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol. Women smokers are twice as likely to experience a delay in conception. Once pregnant it can cause: prematurity, low birth weight and increased risk of SIDS. Women that report a moderate to heavy intake of alcohol may take longer to conceive. Also, avoid second hand smoke as it can cause the same effects.
  • Limit caffeine intake. Limit caffeine to 200mg per day (1-12 ounce cup of coffee) – it can be associated with infertility.
  • Make healthy selections in your diet, which is consistent with good nutrition. Eat a lot of grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy. Avoid all raw and undercooked seafood, eggs, and meat. Also, do not eat sushi made with raw fish (cooked sushi is safe). Most importantly, avoid eating the following foods during pregnancy, such as unpasteurized milk and foods made with unpasteurized milk, hot dogs, luncheon meats and cold cuts. Only eat cold cuts if they are heated until steaming hot just before serving.

Food such as beef, pork, or poultry should be cooked to a safe internal temperature. Lastly, remember to refrigerate pate and meat spreads, smoked seafood, raw and undercooked seafood, eggs and meat.

  • Practice food hygiene. Remember to wash produce thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting or cooking. Wash your hands, knives, countertops and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods as well as keeping your kitchen clean.
  • Move your body. Regular moderate exercise is good for you and your pregnancy. Limit vigorous exercise to avoid an increase in core body temperature above 100.4. Remember to stay hydrated and wear loose comfortable clothing. Exercise improves your wellbeing, assist with weight management and helps prepare the body for pregnancy, labor / delivery and postpartum.
  • Practice dental care. Brush twice daily, use fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque, floss and have regular dental checkups.
  • Develop a financial plan. Research what your health insurance covers and your company’s policy for maternity leave. Also, look at your budget for adding a new family member.

Remember this is a special time. Our hope is that you will enjoy looking forward to the future and a new baby.

Planning for a Healthy Pregnancy

Thinking about becoming pregnant?

Join Touro for an interactive discussion including an OB/GYN and community dietitian to learn how you can enter pregnancy in optimal health.

This class is free of charge. Registration is required.

Complimentary parking will be available for all classes in Touro’s parking garage on Delachaise Street across from the Emergency Department.

Saturday, April 1
10:00 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Touro Infirmary
1401 Foucher St.
New Orleans, LA 70115
Presidents Room, 2nd Floor

Cheryl A. Tschirn, RN, BSN is the OB Navigator for the Family Birthing Center at Touro Infirmary. Since the age of five, Cheryl knew she wanted a career in nursing. She graduated with a BSN from LSU’s School of Nursing in 1981. Cheryl began working in cardiology and pre and post surgical care. She found her calling in 1985 when she began working in Ambulatory OB/GYN nursing. For 28 years, Cheryl has worked in the field as a staff nurse, manager and director. She has served in her current role as Community Educators since 2013 and states that her job is “an absolute joy”. Cheryl enjoys working closely with families and helping preparing them to welcome a growing family.