Pregnancy can be the most rewarding experience of your life, but it can also be the scariest. To minimize anxiety, especially if you are preparing for your first child, there are several steps you can take to ensure a healthy and successful pregnancy.
- Schedule a preconception visit. Before attempting to get pregnant you should meet with your OB/GYN in order to get a full analysis of your medical history, current health, and to review any supplements you are taking. Now is a good time to get advice about your diet and fitness regimen as well.
- Consider a genetic screening. Genetic screening requires a blood and saliva sample that will point out whether you and your partner have any genetically inherited disease traits which could potentially be passed to your unborn child.
- Take a folic acid. Taking a minimum 400 mg of folic acid at least once a day one month before you conceive can cut your chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects such as spina bifida by 50 to 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Taking folic acid is proven to help prevent some other birth defects as well.
- Review your multivitamin. Make sure the supplement you take does not contain more than the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, unless most of it is in a form called beta-carotene. Excessive amounts of vitamin A are linked to a number of birth defects. If you are unsure, ask your healthcare provider, and consider replacing a general supplement with a good prenatal vitamin.
- See your dentist. Did you know pregnant women are more susceptible gum disease? Being proactive about your oral health now can minimize your risk later.
While this is a short list of the many things you can do to improve your pregnancy experience, it is always a good idea to schedule time with your doctor to discuss your reproductive plans in advance of conception. Your age, general health and lifestyle choices all influence your odds of a healthy pregnancy and complication-free delivery.