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5 things you need to do for the best preconception health

5 things you need to do for the best preconception health

So, you’re thinking about having a baby? Congratulations! Before you and your partner stop using birth control, you need to make sure your body is ready. Growing a healthy baby can take a little bit of planning. Sure, you need to figure out the days you’re most likely to be fertile, but you also need to pay attention to the rest of your body for the best preconception health. Around half of the pregnancies in the U.S. aren’t planned. This means that even if you aren’t trying yet, you should improve your overall health before adding a baby to the mix. Touro providers can help with your prenatal care.

1. Start taking folic acid.

You should take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily. You can take the supplement alone or as part of a daily prenatal vitamin. Why do you need folic acid supplementation? Because most major congenital abnormalities, also called birth defects, occur before women even know they are pregnant, in the first three to four weeks after conception. Folic acid helps ensure your baby forms a healthy neural tube, which leads to healthy brain and spine development. Getting enough folic acid in your diet is hard, which is why a daily supplement is recommended to lower the risk of neural tube defects.

2. Stop drinking and smoking.

If you’re actively trying to get pregnant, you need to stop drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco and marijuana. (If you’re using other drugs, you need to stop those too.) Not only can alcohol and tobacco use impact your fertility, but it can also cause miscarriage, congenital disabilities or preterm birth. The substances can also cause your baby to be born at a less-than-healthy weight.

3. Make sure any chronic conditions are under control.

If you have asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure or any other chronic health conditions, you need to discuss your pregnancy plans with your medical providers. While many women with chronic health issues have multiple healthy pregnancies, you may need to switch up or stop taking some prescription medications before you start trying to get pregnant to improve your chance of having a healthy baby. You might also need special monitoring, as pregnancy can cause some health conditions to get worse.

4. Avoid toxic substances.

While toxic substances can be found everywhere, certain chemicals such as pesticides and plastics are linked to a higher risk of congenital disabilities, miscarriages and other problems. Talk to your doctor about how you can make safer choices about what you eat, how you clean your house, and other things you can do to limit exposure. If you’re exposed to a significant amount of toxic chemicals in your workplace, you may want to see if there are any additional precautions you can take before trying to get pregnant.

5. Make an appointment with your PCP or OB/GYN.

It’s important to check in with your Touro primary care provider (PCP) or OB/GYN before trying to get pregnant. You don’t need your provider’s permission to have a baby, of course, but your doctor can check your overall health and possibly help you prevent problems that could come up during pregnancy. Your PCP can ensure your vaccinations are up to date and tell you if you need to discontinue any prescription or over-the-counter medications and supplements during pregnancy. If you have a family history of certain genetic conditions, your OB/GYN can help you decide if you need testing for genetic markers. You can also discuss any questions about pregnancy and fertility, like whether your amount of physical activity is safe for a fetus.

Thinking about what comes next? Learn more about the Family Birthing Center at Touro and take a tour.