Good prenatal health is the only part of a healthy pregnancy that you can control. But don’t worry — the rest you can be confident about when it’s in the capable hands of the medical team at Cary OB/GYN. We are your health partner during your reproductive years, whether you’re planning to become pregnant for the first time or the fifth.
We encourage all patients to take preconception health seriously. More than 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, so being in top health should be a way of life.
We’ve developed some guidelines to help get you healthy and ready for pregnancy and to ensure a healthy environment. Here are the top five steps:
1. Quit smoking
Smoking is bad for everyone, especially your baby. You’re inhaling dangerous chemicals like nicotine and carbon monoxide that target your cells and organs, causing an untold number of health problems.
Quitting smoking is the most important health change you can make to benefit both of you. Smoking is linked to:
- Reduced chances of getting pregnant
- Delayed conception
- Increased chance for miscarriage
- Increased chance for pregnancy complications
- Reduced sperm count of your male partner
- Premature birth and low birthweight, which can lead to death and illness
Smoking causes great harm to your body, which creates an inhospitable environment for a fetus. It harms your unborn baby, specifically in their lungs, brain, and palate area. Also, the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), is three times more likely if you smoke.
Secondhand smoke is equally dangerous, so be aware of your surroundings. Walk away from any situation where people are smoking, and don’t allow smoking in your home or car. Quitting smoking is tough, but we can help. Ask us about smoking cessation medications.
2. Get a thorough preconception checkup
This important checkup identifies problems and clears you for conception, so bring a list of things you want to discuss. At this checkup, we:
- Make sure you are current on your vaccinations
- Identify and treat any existing chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus, or phenylketonuria (PKU)
- Review your family health history for any potential genetic issues
- Review any risk of ethnic conditions like sickle cell, Tay-Sachs, and others
We may order blood work or an ultrasound. We also review and treat any complications from past pregnancies.
3. Form good health and home habits
Aside from quitting smoking, you can take other obvious steps toward good health. Your body needs nurturing at a cellular level to give a baby the best possible environment to develop and grow.
- Take a prenatal vitamin daily
- Begin taking 400 mcg of folic acid daily (if it isn’t an ingredient in your prenatal vitamin) to help protect from neural tube defects of the brain and spine
- Stop drinking alcohol and using street drugs
- Avoid people and places that harbor viruses and other illnesses
- Avoid the cat litter box and all cat waste, which can cause toxoplasmosis that puts your baby at risk for blindness
- Eliminate toxic cleaning and other chemicals from your home
- If you work in a field that exposes you to toxins, speak to your boss about reassignment
- Cook food thoroughly to eliminate foodborne and other illnesses
Follow your doctor’s orders regarding any prescription medications you take. Eat healthy, whole foods, and limit junk food and snacks — strive to be at a healthy weight, because being over- or underweight can cause premature birth and birth defects for the baby and diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) for you. Do your best to create a peaceful home environment, rest, and reduce stress.
4. Get physical
It’s time to get up and get your body moving. Exercise is a great stress reliever, calorie burner, and appetite stimulant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends just 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week, and there’s no reason to stop your existing exercise routines and intensities unless your doctor says otherwise. If you’re not physically active, start slow and follow your doctor’s advice.
5. Enjoy this experience
Pregnancy is an exciting life event worth all the planning and care, so don’t stress. Just do the best you can and have fun during this happy time. We’ve found that many of our patients who make these healthy pre-pregnancy changes stay with them.
If you’re thinking about starting a family or having more children, start taking healthy steps now. Our pregnancy and prenatal care specialists support you through every step of the process. Call to make an appointment at either our Cary or Morrisville, North Carolina, location. You also can use the online booking tool located at the top of this page.