Deciding to start, or add to, your family is an exciting and life-changing experience. Knowing how to do it while ensuring that your new little one is as healthy and safe as possible can be challenging, though. We spoke with Florida Hospital’s Certified Nurse Midwife, Jillian Artis, to find out what women should know before getting pregnant to make certain they will have a healthy pregnancy.
First Things First
“Before getting pregnant there are many steps you should take to make sure that you’re healthy enough to carry your baby to term,” says Artis. “The first step is to make sure your vaccinations are up to date because once you’re pregnant you should not receive some of them, like the MMR, due to the risk of danger to your baby. You should also get your flu shot to prevent illness during pregnancy. And if you do get the flu, the severity, duration and risk of hospitalization will be greatly reduced.”
The next step is to keep track of your cycles for a few months before coming in for an initial visit. Once you’ve made a calendar of your cycles, make an appointment with a specialist where they will help you make a pregnancy plan and teach you what you’ll need to know. On this visit, you may want to also have a carrier test performed to make sure that you or your partner aren’t carrying any hereditary diseases like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, or spinal muscular atrophy disease that could be passed on to your baby.
If you’re a woman over the age of 35, then you may speak with a high-risk pregnancy specialist prior to pregnancy or will be referred to one after establishing your obstetrical care. Close monitoring is recommended during your pregnancy, due to being at statistically higher rates of complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth.
The Healthiest Version of You
“Before becoming pregnant you should aim to be the healthiest version of you possible to ensure a healthy pregnancy, childbirth, and baby,” explains Artis. “If you’re planning on trying to get pregnant, there are a number of things you should eliminate from your life and several more that you should add to it. The pregnancies with the best results come from carefully planned and patient strategies to ensure the health of the mother and baby.”
Three months before your planned pregnancy, be sure to be as healthy as possible by:
- Not smoking
- Not drinking
- Not doing illicit drugs
- Limiting caffeine to less than 200mg a day (about 2 cups of coffee)
- Not taking unnecessary over-the-counter medications like aspirin, pseudoephedrine, ibuprofen, phenylephrine, or excessive vitamins
- Having any chronic diseases like diabetes or hypertension under control and ensuring that providers managing those diseases are prescribing medications that are safe in pregnancy
- Making sure your weight falls into a normal BMI (body mass index) range
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Getting proper rest
If you’ve had a gastric bypass surgery or a similar procedure, be sure to wait until your weight has stabilized before attempting to become pregnant. Make sure to discuss pregancy desires with doctors performing these procedures as well.
Your health is tied directly to the health of your baby and the goal of every pregnancy is to be the healthiest you possibly can be to minimize health concerns. By following these simple guidelines and seeing a specialist before getting pregnant, you should be well on your way to becoming the healthiest version of you possible. Being the healthiest version of you is the first step to becoming a great, and healthy mom.
Find a Specialist
We believe in the whole health and well-being of you and your baby from conception to birth and beyond and are committed to providing you with the best care available. Please visit Florida Hospital for Women or call 407-303-4HER to make a pregnancy plan with one of our specialists or to discuss your next steps on the path to motherhood.