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A checklist for planning for pregnancy

If you are planning to become pregnant and want to get the best possible start on a healthy pregnancy, here are some of the tips I offer to patients:

  • Take a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid. Taking a vitamin for a few months prior to getting pregnant can help prevent neural tube defects of the brain and spinal cord.
  • If you have diabetes, be sure it's under control. Women with HbA1c levels under 6 have the best pregnancy outcomes.
  • For those with high blood pressure, be sure to optimize your blood pressure and make sure you’re taking medication that is safe to use during pregnancy.
  • For those with lupus, you want to be sure you are in remission and not have ongoing kidney issues prior to becoming pregnant.
  • No amount of smoking is safe, so now's a great time to quit.
  • Be reasonable with caffeine intake. Avoid large amounts, especially energy drinks.
  • If you’re overweight, I recommend a low carbohydrate diet with appropriate weight loss before attempting pregnancy. It is generally not a good idea for women to continue trying to lose weight during pregnancy. The amount of recommended weight gain during a woman’s pregnancy depends on starting weight or body mass index (BMI).
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine so it remains a constant throughout pregnancy. Being physically fit will help in pregnancy and labor.
  • Make sure you are eating a healthy diet, choosing good quality foods and staying away from junk food.
About Michael Wolfe MD

Michael Wolfe, MD, is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist with Ascension Medical Group in Wichita, Kansas.