Preconception is the time before you become
pregnant. If you are thinking about having a baby,
you should seek Preconception Health Care to begin
the process of managing conditions and behaviors
that could present risks for you or your baby,
because some of the baby’s most important
development happens before you even know that you
MAKE SURE YOU ARE HEALTHY BEFORE GETTING
Being healthy before you get pregnant may improve
your chances for a healthy birth outcome for your
baby. To be as healthy as possible before becoming
- Take folic acid every day. This B vitamin
promotes healthy development of a baby’s brain
and spinal cord. The baby’s brain and spinal
cord grow in the first month of pregnancy,
before most women even know they are pregnant.
All women who of childbearing age should take
vitamins that have folic acid. The usual dose is
at least 400 micrograms daily. To read more,
read the March
of Dimes paper on folic acid.
- If you smoke, stop smoking. Don’t do drugs or
drink alcohol. If you need help to stop, tell
your health care provider or dial 2-1-1 for a
referral to an appropriate program.
- Get regular health care checkups.
- Get screened or treated for conditions such
- Hepatitis B
- High blood pressure
- Blood diseases
- Eating disorders
- Have vaccinations up to date.
- Talk to your health care provider about any
prescribed or over the counter medicines or
supplements that you are taking, to make sure
they are safe for you and your unborn baby
during your pregnancy.
- Stay away from toxic or hazardous materials
at work or at home
- Wash hands well after being in contact with
bacteria or viruses; do not expose yourself to
cat litter or to rodents.
- Avoid raw meat or fish and unpasteurized milk
products; wash all raw fruit and vegetables
- Tell your health care provider if you have
had a premature birth, a miscarriage or an
- Get counseling to promote healthy behaviors
such as weight control, nutrition, exercise and
- Genetic counseling is a good idea if you,
your partner, or anyone in your families have
genetic conditions that may affect your
pregnancy or your baby.
- See your dentist regularly and treat gum
disease before you get pregnant. Pregnant women
who have periodontal disease may be seven times
more likely to have a baby that is born too
early and too small. To read more, go to the
American Academy of Periodontology’s paper on
Remember…The healthier you are before you
become pregnant, the better it will be for you
and your baby!
FATHERS AND PRECONCEPTION
Men play an important role in supporting and
encouraging their partners to be as healthy as
possible in the preconception stage. There are
also preconception steps that fathers can take to
promote a healthy birth outcome for his baby:
- Men who work with chemicals and other
potentially harmful substances should be careful
not to expose their partners to these
substances. For example, men who may have
chemicals on their work clothes should keep
these clothes separate from other laundry, and
wash them separately.
- The father’s family health history is
important to know when planning a pregnancy, so
that health providers can give the most accurate
advice about how to have the healthiest outcome
for the mother and the baby.
- Fathers should be screened for and treated
for any sexually transmitted diseases; in order
to make sure these illnesses are not passed on
to female partners.
- Cut or eliminate use of drugs, alcohol, or
tobacco to improve reproductive health.
- Men who smoke should not smoke around their
partners, to avoid the harmful effects of
PRECONCEPTION SCREENING TOOL
The March of Dimes has a short Preconception
Checklist that will help you be as ready as
possible before getting pregnant:
Are You Ready to Start Trying to Get Pregnant?
- I've talked with my partner about having a
- I've started saving money for the baby.
- I'm taking a multivitamin with 400 mcg of
folic acid in it every day.
- I've had a medical checkup before trying to
- I've stopped smoking, drinking alcohol and
- I've asked my provider about medicines I
- I'm at a healthy weight.
- I know which maternity costs my insurance
If you've checked all the items, then you're
ready. Try to check them all before you start
trying to get pregnant. Print out this screen to
remind yourself of what you still need to do.
PRECONCEPTION RESOURCES IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-203-1234 for more information
about Preconception Care, to find a health care
provider in your area, or to get referrals for
smoking cessation, and drug/alcohol treatment
programs. 2-1-1 can also talk to you about health
care options if you are uninsured.
WEBSITES WITH INFORMATION ABOUT
SOURCE: March of Dimes, Centers
for Disease Control
PREPARED BY: 211/lb
CONTENT LAST REVIEWED: March2012