Never too early to plan for pregnancy

If you are thinking about having a baby in the future, it’s never too early to start putting together a plan.

Preconception health has come a long way over the past few decades, and physicians are more prepared than ever to help you put together a solid pregnancy strategy.

For some women, getting their body ready for pregnancy can take a few months. For other women, it might take longer or shorter, depending on past health history and current health behaviors.

Visit with your physician

Before getting pregnant, it’s important to talk to your doctor about preconception health care. Together, you’ll discuss your health history and any medical conditions you currently have that could affect a pregnancy.

Some of these conditions include: Sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, thyroid disease, high blood pressure or other chronic diseases.

You’ll also want to be up front with your doctor about your lifestyle behaviors. If you smoke, drink alcohol or use certain drugs, health care professionals can help you with counseling or support services that will help you be as healthy as possible moving into your pregnancy.

Medication review

Your physician will also discuss any medicines that you are taking or vaccinations that you might need. Understanding this information will help you devise specific steps you can take before pregnancy to prevent certain birth defects.

Taking certain medicines during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects, according to the Mayo Clinic. These include some prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements.

If you are planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the need for any medication with your doctor before becoming pregnant and make sure you are taking only those medications that are necessary.

Folic acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin, and a highly recommended addition to your diet if trying to become pregnant. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least one month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Talk with your physician about when to start a folic acid regimen and be sure to follow it closely for the recommended timeframe.

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