Planning a Healthy Pregnancy
Experts agree that the first step in planning a healthy pregnancy begins before conception. Important genetic developments in the embryo occur before a woman realizes that she is pregnant; therefore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle before pregnancy occurs can reduce the risk of complications later on in the pregnancy.
Women who are attempting to conceive should begin taking a multivitamin that contains folic acid. Studies show that by avoiding folic acid deficiency, a woman can reduce the chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. Cigarette smoking should be discontinued, or at the very least, efforts should be made to cut back on the number of cigarettes smoked. Alcohol consumption should be avoided whenever possible. Achieving your ideal body weight before pregnancy is recommended because dieting is not medically advised during pregnancy. Women who are obese going into a pregnancy may be at greater risk of developing complications such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
To take an active part in your pregnancy and birth experience, prepare yourself. Many publications explain the physiological changes that your body goes through during pregnancy and in preparation for delivery. When selecting a health care provider, keep in mind your choices. Pregnancy is an exciting, inspiring and deeply satisfying experience. Make the most of it by developing your understanding to the fullest.
Content courtesy of HealthAtoZ (www.healthatoz.com); reviewed June 2006, by Edith D. Gurewitsch, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD.