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.

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.

staying healthy

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.

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.

resources

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.