Advertisement

A Healthy Pregnancy Starts Before Conception

A Healthy Pregnancy Starts Before Conception

Taking care of yourself prior to pregnancy can reduce your risk of major complications—and help you stay well before, during and after those 40 weeks.

The Midas myth is a powerful allegory: A man can turn everything he touches into gold—but will starve to death since he cannot eat gold. The U.S. is one of the richest countries in the world but, like Afghanistan and Mali, we’ve had an increase in maternal mortality since 2003; the U.S. maternal mortality rate is more than double Canada and Saudi Arabia’s.

What accounts for the increase? Lack of or poor prenatal care affects around 30 percent of American women, allowing hypertension, obesity and diabetes to run rampant, increasing the risk for life-threatening complications.

If you’re thinking of getting pregnant or you’re already pregnant, here are some ways you can stay healthy.

Practice smart self-care. A few strategies include:

  • ​Not smoking
  • Achieving a healthy pre-pregnancy weight
  • Starting a prenatal vitamin with DHA three months before conception
  • Not gaining too much while pregnant
  • Eating a nutritious diet
  • Getting daily physical activity
  • Refraining from drinking alcohol
  • Sleeping 7 to 8 hours nightly

Seek good medical care. Find out if you have health issues that put you at risk for complications during pregnancy—and address them before you get pregnant. It’s also important to ask about vaccines to have before, during and after your pregnancy.

After conception, see your doctor once a month for weeks 4 to 28, twice a month for weeks 28 to 36, and weekly from week 36 until you give birth. If you’re over 35, your doctor may recommend more frequent visits.

With the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid, it is much easier to qualify for Medicaid when you’re pregnant. Hopefully, this will help the U.S. maternal mortality rates decline.

Medically reviewed in May 2019.

Babies Are Sleeping in Baby Boxes—Here’s Why
Babies Are Sleeping in Baby Boxes—Here’s Why
Baby boxes, a Finnish tradition that started in the 1930s, are now being used by parents in the United States. But what exactly is a baby box? Dependi...
Read More
Which vaccinations should I have during pregnancy?
Wesley Medical CenterWesley Medical Center
Some vaccines can and should be given during a pregnancy, while others, specifically the ones contai...
More Answers
Should You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in Mind
Should You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in MindShould You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in MindShould You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in MindShould You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in Mind
Though only six percent of women hire them to help with pregnancy, doulas offer real benefits.
Start Slideshow
Can Petite Women Safely Give Birth Vaginally?
Can Petite Women Safely Give Birth Vaginally?