Getting healthy before pregnancy

A healthy pregnancy starts before you get pregnant. It’s important to know what you can do before pregnancy to help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

What can you do to have a healthy pregnancy someday?

  • Get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy to make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant. Once you’re pregnant, get early and regular prenatal care.
  • Check to see if your vaccinations are up to date. Rubella (German measles) and chickenpox can cause birth defects and other problems if you get them during pregnancy.
  • Get a dental checkup. Keep up your regular dental checkups before and during pregnancy. If you have gum disease, getting treatment before pregnancy may prevent health problems in you and your baby.
  • Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. If you take it before and during early pregnancy, it can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTDs).
  • Eat healthy foods and get to a healthy weight. Being at a healthy weight before pregnancy may help you avoid health problems in you or your baby. Overweight, obese and underweight women are more likely than woman of a healthy weight to have pregnancy problems. Eat healthy during pregnancy and learn more about what foods to avoid during pregnancy.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, use street drugs or take prescription drugs that aren’t prescribed for you. And stay away from secondhand smoke. All of these things can harm your baby during pregnancy. Tell your health care provider if you need help to quit.
  • Learn about your family health history. This is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in your families have had. It can help you make important health choices in your life.
  • Keep safe from toxoplasmosis by not eating undercooked meat or changing your cat’s litter box. Undercooked meat and cat poop may have parasite in them that causes an infection called toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects.
  • Keep safe from pets that are rodents, like hamsters, mice and guinea pigs. Rodents can carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV) that can harm your baby.
  • Stay away from harmful chemicals, like paint thinner. Some chemicals may increase your chances of having a baby with birth defects.
  • Get help if you’ve been abused by your partner. Abuse often gets worse during pregnancy.
  • Reduce the stress in your life. Too much stress can cause problems during pregnancy.

More information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Show Your Love Preconception Health

Last reviewed: October, 2013