Are you planning on having a baby? Before you get pregnant, take charge of your health—healthier moms mean healthier babies.
The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid each day. Folic acid is a nutrient found in some green, leafy vegetables, most berries, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, fortified breakfast cereals, and some vitamin supplements. It can help reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord categorized as neural tube defects—such as spina bifida.
Folic acid is most beneficial during the first 28 days after conception when most neural tube defects occur. Unfortunately, many women don’t realize they’re pregnant before 28 days. Therefore, folic acid intake should begin prior to conception and continue through pregnancy. Your physician or midwife will recommend the appropriate amount of folic acid to meet your individual needs.
Stopping Birth Control
If you’re using birth control, ask your healthcare provider when to stop. It’s recommended that birth control pills be stopped two to three months before you would like to become pregnant. This gives your body time to get back to its regular cycle. Use condoms and a spermicide during that time.
Start your pregnancy at an average weight for your height. If you want to gain or lose weight, do so before you become pregnant.
See Your Physician or Midwife
You physician or midwife can help you plan a safe, healthy course for your pregnancy. They may perform a well-woman assessment which focuses on your health history, present health status, and special needs. Screening, routine gynecological care, and stabilizing any medical conditions will help plan for a healthy pregnancy.