You can take steps to protect the health of your baby before you are pregnant. Here are some ways to stay healthy on the way to parenthood.
help each other quit smoking
Smoking has serious health risks to you, your partner and your family. The risks of smoking when you’re pregnant are scary. Smoking causes issues like low birth weight, stillbirth, asthma and other lifelong respiratory issues. Quitting won’t be easy, but your life, as well as your partner’s and your baby’s, depend on it.
It all starts with making a plan and getting support from those around you who care. We recommend you take a look at My Quit Plan for helpful tips and hints.
Quitting and making your home smoke-free is easier if you do it together. Make sure your friends and family are prepared not to smoke in your house, your car or anywhere near your baby.
For more information on quitting smoking, go to the bottom of the page.
alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix
No amount of alcohol is safe for a developing baby. If you are trying to get pregnant, you need to stop drinking alcohol now. The heart, brain and nerves develop in the first weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they’re even pregnant.
Using alcohol can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. These disorders affect a person’s brain and heart for a lifetime. Stop using alcohol now if you are trying to get pregnant or have found out you are pregnant. Learn the myths and facts about consuming alcohol during pregnancy and the long-term effects it could have on your child.
Using alcohol can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. These disorders affect a person’s brain and heart for a lifetime. Stop using alcohol now if you are trying to get pregnant or have found out you are pregnant.
Check with your provider if you are taking any medications and you are trying to get pregnant. Some medications can affect the pregnancy. If you are trying to get pregnant and you use drugs — even marijuana — it’s important to stop now. Drug use can seriously hurt your baby.
You can get help if you need it. The SAMHSA National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365 treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental health and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Pregnancy affects your body in a lot of ways. It’s a good idea for both partners to be in great health before pregnancy. Scheduling a yearly medical exam is one way to be prepared, whether you’re planning a pregnancy or not.
When you’re ready to start trying to have a baby, talk to your health care provider. Discuss any health concerns or questions you might have. Make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccines, discuss your family history — as well as your partner’s — and get checked and treated for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Untreated STIs can hurt your body and make it hard to get pregnant or keep a pregnancy.
support your body
All women who can have children should take a daily multivitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid. Folic acid helps with your energy level. If you decide to become pregnant, it will help your baby’s nerves and brain develop the way they should. You’ll also have stronger nails and shinier hair, too.
be aware of your surroundings
Household chemicals, exposure to chemicals, radiation or extreme heat at work and high stress can impact your ability to have babies, as well as your pregnancy. Exposure to pet waste can cause birth defects. Be careful and always use gloves when caring for your pets, and wash your hands regularly.
manage your stress
Everyone has stress in his or her life. How you handle that stress is what matters most. Maybe your family is stressing you out. Maybe it’s your job, finances or your health. Whatever it is, talk with your partner, your family and your friends. They should support you as you move into parenthood.
healthy relationships make for healthier homes
Healthy relationships are built on respect, communication and giving people the freedom to be comfortable, happy and honest.
If you are experiencing violence or abuse in your home or work, visit Womenshealth.gov to find resources and information to protect yourself. You may also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or 206-518-9361 (Video Phone — Only for Deaf Callers).
money in the bank
Babies cost money. You might feel ready for a baby, but can you pay for one? Take the time now to think through a budget with your partner. Plan ahead for large expenses, unexpected costs and start saving.
You or your baby might have to stay at the hospital after delivery. You may be out of work longer than planned. Consider everything and start saving now. There’s a good chance that you’ll need those savings for something soon.
make smart dietary choices
Focus on lean protein, vegetables and fruits when you eat. Learn more about some good choices you can make in your daily diet.
- Grains: These foods are made with wheat, oats, rice, etc. Try to make at least half of your servings “whole grain.” Examples include oatmeal for breakfast or choosing brown rice over white rice.
- Vegetables: Eat plenty of them, especially dark-green, red and orange veggies, which are full of important vitamins and minerals.
- Fiber: Eating a lot of fiber like beans and peas will help you feel full. Plus, it’s good for your heart.
- Whole fruits: These sweet treats provide the most benefit with the fewest calories. Juice gives you the vitamins and minerals, but not the fiber. If you drink juice, make sure that the label says “100% fruit juice.” Otherwise, it’s really a sugar-sweetened drink, closer to a soda.
- Milk, yogurt and cheese: These can be part of a healthy diet, but switch to fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat versions.
- Meat: Get the protein, skip the fat. Look for lean, low-sodium choices when possible — baked chicken, lean beef and turkey are great ways to get the nutrients you need. Remember, a serving is only about the size of a deck of cards.
- Seafood: Try eating fish, shrimp and other shellfish at least twice a week.
- Water: And plenty of it. Or if you like the fizzy stuff, try seltzer instead.
More information on nutrition and activity can be found at the bottom of the page.
enjoy each other
Take advantage of this time to enjoy each other. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Enjoy being active and talk about some of the issues you may be facing together. There will be times in the future where you may feel you’re too busy to have these discussions.
Get help creating your new non-smoking environment, visit the American Cancer Society.
Talk to your provider about taking advantage of resources like Quit Line (1-877-937-7878) TTY (1-866-228-4327) or www.yesquit.com.
Joining a support group is a great way to combat stress. Find out how with this tool from the Mayo Clinic.
Find helpful documents that will help you manage stress.
The Texas Council on Family Violence provides a list of family violence service providers across the state. These providers can offer critical services such as 24-hour emergency shelter and help for victims of domestic violence.
Create a personalized nutrition and physical activity plan with the USDA’s SuperTracker.