Is 2019 the year you’ll start a family? Read this first.
If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant this year, some planning is in order. Making a few changes to your health and lifestyle before you become pregnant can help give your baby the best possible start.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend taking the “PACT” approach.
1. Plan ahead.
- Get 400mg of folic acid every day. Folic acid is a B vitamin that can help prevent major birth defects in the developing spine and brain of your baby. You can get folic acid from leafy greens and fortified foods, by taking a supplement, or a combination of the two.
- See your healthcare provider before you become pregnant and then again as soon as you think you might be.
2. Avoid harmful substances. Alcohol, chemicals from cigarette smoking, marijuana and other drugs all get passed on to the baby, and all can be harmful.
- Quit alcohol completely before you get pregnant, and don’t drink at all while you’re pregnant.
- It’s also essential that you quit smoking. Babies born to mothers who smoke tend to be born earlier and weigh less, which puts them at risk. E-cigarettes are not a healthy alternative either. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor.
3. Choose a healthy lifestyle. Strive to maintain a healthy weight, control diabetes if you have it, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. Obesity increases the risk of pregnancy complications for the mother and birth defects for the baby. Talk to your doctor about healthy ways to lose weight before you get pregnant.
4. Talk to your healthcare provider.
- Discuss your family medical history and whether genetic screening might be right for you.
- Make sure you are up-to-date on recommended vaccines, including a flu shot.
- Talk about the medicines you take. Some medications you take may not be healthy for your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements. Your healthcare provider can help you find safe alternatives.
Following these tips can help you have the healthiest possible pregnancy and the healthiest possible baby. Who knows, a year from now you might have more than the New Year to celebrate!