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All About Pregnancy

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All About Pregnancy > Trying to Conceive

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Photographer: Winnond

There are many things you can do to ensure good health for yourself and your baby during pregnancy. First, schedule a check-up with your OB-GYN to let them know you are planning to have a baby; you’ll want to make sure you are in good health and are able to conceive. Also, see your dentist! It seems silly, but it’s a necessary preparatory step. Pregnancy affects hormonal levels, which can increase your susceptibility to gum disease and in turn, the health of the baby. Additionally, you will want to avoid all x-rays – even dental x-rays – while you’re pregnant. Be sure to inform your dentist when you conceive!


Taking folic acid before and during the first stages of pregnancy will help your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly. Whole grain breads and breakfast cereals, beans, dark leafy greens and orange juice are all fortified with folic acid. Eat a variety of  nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins (from dried beans, poultry and fish) and dairy products. 

Stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke. Smoking may make it harder for you to get pregnant, and smoking while pregnant increases health risks such as SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and other complications. Drinking alcohol can also make it harder for you to get pregnant. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause your baby to have conditions that create lifelong problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a combination of physical and mental defects, low birth weight, heart defects, growth problems and problems with  brain development.

You may need tests to find out if you have pre-existing health problems that could harm you or your baby during pregnancy. These tests include Rubella (also known as German measles), which can be very harmful to your baby; as well as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia or AIDS – all of which can make it hard for your to get pregnant and also harm your baby. Also, have your doctor perform tests to measure your risk for other problems, such as anemia and Hepatitis.

Be sure that medical  conditions such as asthma, diabetes, obesity or epilepsy are under control and that all your vaccinations are up to date before trying to conceive. Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medications you are talking including herbal supplements. 

Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials at work and at home that could cause problems with your pregnancy. You will want to stay away from chemicals,  as well as cat and rodent feces. Learn about the  health history of your family! Your baby may be at risk for certain problems or diseases that run in your family, and you should be aware of them and inform your doctor, as well. Some conditions can be inherited, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. These problems are not caused by anything you do during your pregnancy, but you should still be aware of their possibility. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and whether screening tests are needed.

If you aren’t already exercising, now is the time to get started! Recommended choices for before and during pregnancy include  walking, swimming and yoga. You’ll want to stick with low-impact aerobic exercises, and as noted, avoid contact exercises as well as exercises where you are at risk of falling. Speak to your physician before starting an exercise program to make sure you choose one that is individually tailored to your needs.

To improve your chances of getting pregnant, it’s important that your partner is healthy, too. Make sure he takes care of himself concerning both  exercise and diet. If he smokes or takes illegal drugs, make sure he stops. These behaviors not only lower the chance of conception, but are dangerous to both you and the baby.

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