PregnancyPrepWhether you’re just beginning to plan for a future baby or have already gotten a positive pregnancy test, there are steps that future moms and dads can take to help have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Remember that following these tips does not guarantee a perfect child bearing experience and flawless birth. But they can increase your chances of having an easier time conceiving and a safer pregnancy.

What women can do:

  • Ditch your birth control.
  • Stop drinking alcohol and smoking. Both of these can seriously harm your child. Women who smoke and/or drink have an increased risk of miscarrying or having a child with birth defects. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that no amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe.
  • Check your family medical history for any genetic diseases.
  • Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid a day for a month before you start trying to get pregnant to help prevent birth defects. Continue taking these throughout your pregnancy unless instructed by your health care provider to stop.
  • Check with your doctor before getting any vaccinations. Some are alright to take during pregnancy, but others are not. Let your doctor know when you are planning on trying to conceive so they know if they should give you a vaccination or not.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. Studies have shown that women with low or high BMI’s (body mass index) often have a more difficult time conceiving.
  • Check with your insurance to see what maternity tests and procedures are covered.

How men can prepare:

  • Avoid long exposure to hot tubs and saunas. The heat can interfere with sperm production, so keep trips to the steam room 15 minutes or less.
  • Stop smoking and taking recreational drugs. These activities can reduce sperm production or increase risk of sperm abnormalities, making it harder to conceive. And women with partners who smoke are more likely to have a child with a low birth weight.
  • Watch your alcohol intake. You don’t need to give it up completely, but excessive drinking can lead to difficulty conceiving or infertility.
  • Check your family medical history for any genetic diseases.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough folic acid. You don’t need as much as your partner, but men with lower levels of folic acid have the potential of having more abnormal chromosomes in their sperm. That could result in a miscarriage or birth defects.