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How can I prepare my body for a healthy pregnancy?

Richard Tom, M.D.
Obstetrics/Gynecology, Rush Copley Medical Group

While it may seem simple to let nature take its course, there are several things you can do to make sure you and your baby get a healthy start.

If you have had any medical problems, you should be evaluated before conceiving. If you have a condition like diabetes, your blood sugar needs to be in good control before you conceive in order to prevent birth defects and reduce the risk of a miscarriage. You should also be checked for STDs and make sure you are protected against the rubella virus.

While planning for pregnancy, consider your weight. If you’re overweight, your risk is higher for things such as high blood pressure and diabetes. During pregnancy, women of average weight should gain 25 to 35 pounds; underweight women should gain 28 to 40 pounds; and overweight women should only gain about 15 to 25 pounds.

It is important to take prenatal vitamins before you become pregnant and throughout your pregnancy. It is particularly important that your body have enough folic acid at the start of the pregnancy because folic acid prevents a complication called a neural tube defect from occurring. You should take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid each day for one month prior to getting pregnant. Before you try to conceive, schedule a preconception visit with an OB/GYN. A physician can help put you on the right path to giving your baby the best possible start.