Preconception Counseling

Important Steps to Take Before Planning a Pregnancy

Pre-conceptional counseling is an opportunity for your doctor to help you improve your health before you start trying to become pregnant.  Important steps before becoming pregnant include:

  • Increasing your daily intake of folic acid.  One of the most important vitamins needed before and during pregnancy is folic acid.  Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects (NTDs).   The daily-recommended dose for all reproductive age women is 0.4 milligrams (400 micrograms).  Women should start folic acid at least 3 months before becoming pregnant.  Most prenatal vitamins contain this amount, or you can find folic acid by itself over the counter.  Women with special conditions, like those who require some epilepsy medications and those who have a personal history of NTDs or have had a baby with a NTD require 4 mg of folic acid daily
  • Making sure your immunizations are up to date
  • Controlling preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or thyroid conditions
  • Trying to reach a healthy weight before you become pregnant
  • Starting an exercise routine.  It is best to have an exercise routine in place before getting pregnant.  All individuals, including pregnant women, without a contraindication should exercise 30 minutes daily for at least five days of the week.
  • Avoiding smoking, alcohol consumption and drug use
  • Learning about your family health history and that of your partner’s
  • Seeking help for depression or anxiety