Medical research has shown that starting to address threats to a healthy pregnancyafter a woman has become pregnant is not sufficient to prevent poor birth outcomes. A fetus is the most vulnerable in the first few weeks after conception. Since many women do not know they are pregnant during this time, many are not seeking prenatal care or avoiding risky behavior. Improving a woman’s health before conception increases the chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

Being pregnant and giving birth to a child can be one of the best experiences of your life. Here are some tips on how you can help make sure it is.

Take Care of Yourself

  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains
  • Exercise
  • Have a routine physical and dental exam each year
  • Talk to your doctor about taking a daily prenatal vitamin or multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid
  • Eat calcium-rich (such as non-fat or low-fat yogurt, milk, and broccoli) and leaner foods (such as chicken and turkey without the skin, and fish) are strongly recommended
  • Drink at least six to eight glasses of water, fruit juice, or milk a day
  • Take care to try and avoid gaining excessive amounts of weight, with doctors recommending an average gain of 25 to 30 pounds for most women
  • Get seven to nine hours of sleep every night
  • Keep your immunizations current
  • Plan for pregnancy and practice safe sex
  • Wash your hands
  • Get help for depression or other mental health concerns
  • Learn how to lower stress

Don’t!

  • Smoke
  • Drink alcohol
  • Take illegal street or prescription drugs
  • Eat large amounts of fatty foods (such as butter and fatty meats) and sweets (such as soda, cookies, candy, potato chips, and donuts)

Know the Signs

Recognizing and appropriately responding to the signs and symptoms of pre-term labor is another crucial factor in having a successful pregnancy. Pre-term labor is when a woman goes into labor before the 37th week of pregnancy, or three weeks before her due date. The earlier pre-term labor is spotted and treated, the better the chance of stopping it.

Common Signs of Pre-term Labor

  • Contractions
  • Low pelvic pressure
  • Gas-type pains
  • A change in vaginal discharge
  • Leaking of fluid
  • Low dull backaches
  • Menstrual-like cramping
  • Abdominal cramping

Links

March of Dimes Information on pregnancy and newborn care, answering questions related to before, during, and after pregnancy.
First Candle If you or someone you know has experienced the loss of a baby, whether during pregnancy or after birth, please see this web page from First Candle/SIDS Alliance. It provides information on how to cope with grief, facts on SIDS, and other resources.
WomensHealth.gov Federal government source for women’s health information. The site contains information on hundreds of health topics.
WomensHealth.gov Prenatal Care Information on the importance of prenatal care, what it consists of, and things you should do before getting pregnant. It also provides information on things you should do if you are already pregnant, addresses complications, and how to prepare for a baby.
TEXT4BABY New mobile phone health service “TEXT4BABY” is a free service for new moms during pregnancy and thru baby’s first year.