Pregnancy - health risks

If you are trying to get pregnant, you should try to follow healthy habits. You should stick to these behaviors from the time you are trying to get pregnant all the way through your pregnancy.

  • Do not smoke tobacco or use illegal drugs.
  • Stop drinking alcohol.
  • Limit caffeine and coffee.
  • Plan healthy eating. If you're not sure how to do this, talk to your health care provider.
  • Optimize your sleep habits.
  • Get regular aerobic exercise.
  • Ask your provider if your weight is optimum.
  • If your menses are regular, you are probably ovulating. If you've been on birth control pills, consider getting off them for several months before attempting pregnancy.

Talk to your health care provider about any medicines you may be taking to see if they can affect your unborn baby. Eat a well-balanced diet. Take supplemental vitamins with at least 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid (also known as folate or vitamin B9) a day.

If you have any chronic medical problems (such as high blood pressure, kidney problems, or diabetes), talk to your provider before trying to get pregnant.

See a prenatal provider before trying to get pregnant or early in the pregnancy. This can help prevent, or detect and control health risks to the mother and unborn baby during pregnancy.

Talk to your provider if you are planning to get pregnant within a year of your or your partner's traveling abroad. This is especially important if traveling to areas where viral or bacterial infections could affect the health of an unborn baby.

Men need to be careful, too. Smoking and alcohol may cause problems with the unborn baby. Smoking, alcohol, and marijuana use have also been shown to lower sperm counts.

Ultrasound in pregnancy

The ultrasound has become a standard procedure used during pregnancy. It can demonstrate fetal growth and can detect increasing numbers of conditions including meningomyelocele, congenital heart disease, kidney abnormalities, hydrocephalus, anencephaly, club feet, and other deformities. Ultrasound does not produce ionizing radiation and is considered a very safe procedure for both the mother and the fetus.

Tobacco health risks

In general, chronic exposure to cigarette smoking may cause increased risk of cancer, COPD, coronary artery disease, stroke, fetal illnesses, and delayed wound healing.

Vitamin B9 source

Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant or who are pregnant often require additional supplementation of folic acid. Adequate folic acid is important for pregnant women because it has been shown to prevent some kinds of birth defects, including neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Many foods are now fortified with folic acid to help prevent these kinds of serious birth defects.