Preconception Care

If you’re planning to become pregnant or just thinking about it, be sure to schedule a preconception care checkup with your doctor or advanced practice provider. By getting healthy before pregnancy, you help to give your baby the best chance for a good start in life.

When moms take care of themselves, says the Centers for Disease Control, their babies are less likely to be born early (preterm) or have a low birthweight. And they’re more likely to be born without birth defects or other disabling conditions.

What Happens During a Preconception Care Checkup?

During this visit, you’ll talk with your doctor or advanced practice provider about things that could affect your pregnancy. These include your diet and lifestyle, your medical and family history, medications you take and any past pregnancies. This visit gives you the opportunity to learn about and make any adjustments needed in your life before you get pregnant.

Specifically, you and your doctor may discuss:

  • Finding and taking care of any problems that might affect you and your baby later, like diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Increasing the amount of folic acid you get to prevent neural tube defects in your baby
  • Getting up to date on vaccines
  • Avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs
  • Trying to reach a healthy weight

Who Should Have a Preconception Care Checkup?

If pregnancy may be in your future, a preconception care checkup can help to protect your baby even before you know you’re pregnant. The first eight weeks of pregnancy are critical for the baby growing inside you, because most major organs and body systems begin to form. Your health and nutrition can affect your baby’s growth and development in these early weeks.

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