Tips for good health before pregnancy (preconception)

You may be aware of how professional athletes train their bodies for game day. They practice, lift weights, eat well, stretch and take care of their bodies. Similarly, did you know it’s important to train your body for a healthy pregnancy? It’s important to get your body strong, eat well and educate yourself on what to expect. Your future self (and future baby) will thank you for the good work you put in to gear up for the big changes ahead.

Planning for pregnancy will look a little different for everyone, but there are common tips and recommendations to help increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. 

Getting your body baby-ready

You might have an idea of what it takes to be healthy — things like maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, staying away from tobacco. All of those things are even more important when you’re getting your body ready to grow life. In fact, there’s even more to be aware of. The stronger your body is before baby, the greater chance for a smooth, healthy pregnancy. Here are some things to keep in mind before you try to get pregnant:1

These are just a few ways to help get your body physically ready for pregnancy. There’s a lot more information out there. And because every woman is different, your doctor may have special recommendations based on your health, age, family history and more. If you’re planning to get pregnant soon, visit your primary care provider (the doctor or provider you might see for your yearly physical) or your gynecologist (OB/gyn). At your preconception appointment, you’ll discuss many pre-pregnancy topics with your doctor to make sure you’ve got the knowledge and resources for getting yourself in shape to create life. 

Reducing your risk of complications

Preparing your body for pregnancy goes beyond exercise and diet. Here’s a list of things you can do to help increase your chances of getting pregnant and reduce risk of complications.

  • Be aware of chemicals and contaminants: It’s important to be on the lookout for and avoid harmful chemicals and contaminants. Consider the products you buy, products you use on your skin and hair, food you eat and exposure to things like pesticides, bug spray, radiation and lead. Certain metals in seafood can be harmful to a growing baby and it's not a good thing to have stored in your system when you’re trying to get pregnant. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends safely limiting your amount of certain seafood, it may be best to simply stay away from it for a few months.8
  • Quit harmful habits: Tobacco, marijuana, alcohol and other drugs can cause serious birth defects. Tobacco can lower your ability to get pregnant and actually increase your risk for miscarriage. Even secondhand smoke can put your new baby at risk for serious stuff (like sudden infant death syndrome, weak lungs and other health issues). It’s smart to stop using tobacco and stay away from harmful substances (including secondhand smoke)9 and avoid any excessive alcohol use10 while you’re trying to get pregnant and throughout your pregnancy.
  • Reduce stress: If you’re stressed, your body might know it’s not a good time to have a baby. It’s actually one way your body may protect itself. Stress hormones can confuse the signals between your brain and ovaries, making it harder to get pregnant. Pay attention to how your body is feeling. If you’re feeling stress, maybe try meditating, yoga, journaling or joining a support group with other women just like you.11

When to see your doctor

Did you know a baby’s main organs develop within the first 8 weeks? It’s important to have your mental and physical health in shape before then so you can make sure your body is ready to be your baby’s home for the next 9 months. It may be a good idea to schedule a preconception (pregnancy care) appointment with your preferred provider when you decide it’s time to start trying to get pregnant. You’ll be able to prepare by talking through topics like diet, lifestyle, family history, medicines you’re taking and anything else that might impact your future pregnancy.12