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If you are thinking about having a baby or trying to get pregnant, take time to get ready and prepare for pregnancy. Whether this is your first, second or fifth baby, there are a few important steps that will help you prepare to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
Our Preconception Planning checklist is a helpful and handy reference as you begin your journey to parenthood.
See your doctor. Talk to him/her about preconception, your health history, lifestyle, any current medical conditions and medications. Ask about taking a multivitamin and/or folic acid (a B vitamin) in advance of and during pregnancy. Folic acid has been shown to help prevent certain spine and brain defects in newborns. Discuss previous pregnancy issues, vaccinations you may need and other important health considerations including diet, weight and exercise.
Learn your family’s history. Based on this information, your doctor may suggest genetic counseling.
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. You may have an easier time conceiving if you’re at a healthy weight. Having a low or high body mass index (BMI) makes it harder for some women to become pregnant. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to achieve your weight goals.
Limit your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine has been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage in some studies. While there’s no consensus on how much is safe during pregnancy, experts agree that pregnant women and those trying to conceive should avoid consuming large amounts.
Discontinue unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, drinking or drug use. Seek help if needed to do so.
Avoid toxic substances and other environmental contaminants and harmful materials, such as synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces. These substances can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women and make it more difficult to get pregnant.
Once you are pregnant, be sure to keep practicing your new healthy habits and receive regular prenatal care throughout pregnancy.
Stick to a fitness plan. A healthy workout program includes 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise (such as walking, cycling, weight training) several days a week. Try stretching or yoga to increase flexibility. Once pregnant, it’s okay to continue exercising, unless you’ve been directed not to do so.
Consider the financial impact of pregnancy and delivery, and the costs of raising a child. A recent study stated that the average middle-income family will spend over $275,000 to raise a child from birth through age 17. For the more immediate needs, check with your health insurance company on your prenatal/maternity coverage.