Pre-pregnancy planning

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:50 pm
If you're planning to become pregnant, there are many things you can do for both your own and your baby's well-being. Start with a thorough physical exam, and get preconception counseling from your health care provider. This can alert you to any problems that need to be corrected or monitored during your pregnancy. If inherited diseases are a concern, you may want to have genetic screening tests as well. Make sure your immunizations are up-to-date, especially for rubella or German measles. Those taking birth control pills will need to stop at least two or three months before trying to get pregnant. Preconception counseling also stresses regular exercise and a healthy diet. Limit your intake of caffeine and junk food. Avoid excessive drinking at the pre-pregnancy stage, and when you try to conceive, stop drinking altogether. If you smoke, quit at least three months before you conceive; the same goes for marijuana or other drugs. Tobacco and drugs can increase risk to the fetus, even when consumed before you're pregnant. Pre-natal vitamins are important; zinc and folic acid in particular can reduce the risk of certain birth defects. Just don't exceed the recommended levels. And don't take any medicine, even non-prescription, without your doctor's advice. For complete information on pre-pregnancy planning, consult a health care provider.

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