Healthy pregnancies begin even before you even plan to become pregnant. There are several healthy habits that can help your body prepare for pregnancy and every woman should be aware of them whether or not they plan to become pregnant in the future. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so it is important to keep yourself healthy even if you do not expect pregnancy. One in eight babies is born preterm, and obstetricians agree that this can be prevented with better preconception health. If you are planning on becoming pregnant this year, living a healthy lifestyle will help care for your baby during pregnancy as well as help ensure that they are born without complications. Here are some tips for preparing your body for pregnancy.
Take Folic Acid:
Folic acid is a B vitamin needed to generate new cells. To prevent any birth defects in your baby, especially to the brain and spine, it is important to have high levels of folic acid in your system to help new cell generation. Brain and spine development occur very early in pregnancy, within the first 28 days, so maintaining the appropriate levels of folic acid in your system can prevent birth defects even before you are aware of your pregnancy. Women who are able to bear children should take 400-800 micrograms of folic acid each day whether they plan to become pregnant or not. Try to take a multivitamin supplement that includes this daily dose of folic acid as well as calcium, iron, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D.
Keep Vaccines Up-to-Date and Have Regular Health Screenings:
Every woman should have regular screenings, have regular pap smears, and keep their vaccinations up-to-date, and in pregnancy this is especially important, as your health will affect your baby’s health. Some diseases, including STD’s, can be transmitted to the baby during delivery, so screening for them once you find out you are pregnant can help determine whether a cesarean section may be a better delivery option to prevent transmission of any diseases. This may also determine whether your baby should be immunized at birth.
If you are not immune to rubella and chickenpox, which can cause complications during pregnancy, you should be immunized immediately and not attempt to become pregnant until a month after immunization. Make sure you get the flu shot before pregnancy along with vaccinations for Hepatitis B if you haven’t already.
Manage Health Concerns:
Before pregnancy, it is important to manage health problems like epilepsy, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, obesity, depression, eating disorders, and asthma. You should always be finding ways to achieve better health like staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and making smarter food choices. If there are any specific pregnancy risks that run in your family, please discuss them with Dr. Ayalon. It is important that you can openly communicate with your doctor about any other health concerns you may have.
Steer clear of coming in contact with any chemicals or substances that could cause infection. Stay away from harmful chemicals like those in cleaning agents, fertilizer, and pesticides, as well as feces from pets or rodents. If you plan on becoming pregnant it is important for your baby’s health that you stop any smoking and alcohol consumption. If your partner or family members smoke you should ask that they refrain from smoking around you. Certain medications can affect your pregnancy, so if you are planning on becoming pregnant, be sure to consult your general physician about the medications you are taking and make sure to mention them to Dr. Ayalon.
Call Dr. Ayalon at (818) 654-9312 for more advice on pre-conception health.