Planning your pregnancy

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Key Points

Planning your pregnancy means thinking about what it means to have a baby and making decisions with your partner about your family.

Women who plan their pregnancies are more likely to get healthy before pregnancy and get prenatal care during pregnancy than women who don’t plan.

Think about how many children you want and when you want to have them. Talk about these things with your partner.

Use birth control until you’re ready to get pregnant

Why is planning your pregnancy important?

More than half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. This means that lots of women may get pregnant without really being ready for it.

Planning your pregnancy can help you have a healthy baby. Babies who are planned are more likely to be born healthy than babies who aren’t planned. If you’re planning to have a baby, you’re more likely to get healthy before you get pregnant and to get early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy. Prenatal care is medical care you get during pregnancy.

How do you plan your pregnancy?

Make a reproductive life plan. This means thinking about if and when you want to have a baby. Ask yourself these questions:

    • How many children do I want?
    • How far apart do I want them to be?
    • How can I get healthy before pregnancy?
    • If I’m having sex and don’t want a baby now, how can I keep from getting pregnant?

Talk to your partner about your reproductive life plan before you get pregnant. There are no right or wrong answers, and your answers may change as you get older. You and your partner may not agree on every answer, so you may need some time to figure things out together.

Birth control (also called contraception or family planning) is part of your reproductive life plan. Birth control helps keep you from getting pregnant. Examples of birth control include intrauterine devices (also called IUDs), implants, the pill and condoms. Ask your health care provider about the best kind of birth control for you and your partner.

Are you ready to be a parent?

Your life changes when you become a parent. Talk to your partner to make sure you’re both ready for your lives to be different. Ask yourselves these questions:

  • Why do you want to have a baby? Do you feel pressure to have a baby? Does one of you want to have a baby more than the other? Do you both think you’ll like being parents?
  • How will your relationship with your partner change when you have a baby? Are you and your partner ready for these changes?
  • How does having a baby affect your work or school?
  • What will you do for child care? Will you or your partner stay home? Or do you need to find day care for your baby?
  • Do you have religious or cultural traditions that you want to share with your child? Do you and your partner agree on these traditions?
  • Are you ready to take care of a baby who may be sick or have special needs?
  • Are you ready to have less money and free time for yourself?

If you don’t have a partner, ask yourself these questions to see if you’re ready to be a parent on your own.

Are you physically ready to get pregnant?

Getting your body ready can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. A great way to get started is to get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before you get pregnant. At this checkup, your provider makes sure you’re as healthy as possible so your body’s ready when you do get pregnant. If you’re not ready just yet, your provider helps you choose birth control to keep you from getting pregnant until you’re ready.

Are you financially ready for a baby?

Babies and baby things can cost a lot of money! Do you have money to pay for diapers and child care? Do you have health insurance that helps pay for medical care for your baby? Here’s what you can do to help you think about how a baby may affect your finances:

  • Make a budget. Write down what you spend each month on your home, car, food, clothes, medical care and other bills. Compare the amount of money you spend with the amount of money you make. How much is left after you pay your bills? You may need to cut back on spending to have money to pay for things your baby needs.
  • Start saving. It’s not too early to start saving for your baby. Think about how much child care and baby things cost and try to save that amount of money each month.
  • Shop smart. Some baby things may need to be new, but you can buy some used or borrow from friends and family. Make sure things like car seats and cribs meet current safety standards.  Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to learn about product safety standards and product recalls. 

What are maternity and paternity leave?

Maternity and paternity leave (also called parental leave) is time off from work after your baby’s birth (or if you adopt a child). Maternity leave is time off for mom, and paternity leave is time off for dad. If you or your partner works, find out about your maternity and paternity leave. Ask your supervisor or talk to someone in the human resources department at your workplace.

Because of the Family and Medical Leave Act, parents who have worked at least 1 year for a company with 50 or more employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for parental leave. At the end of your leave, your employer has to give you your job back.  

What about health insurance?

Health insurance (also called insurance plan, health coverage or health plan) helps you pay for medical care. Health insurance is important if you’re planning to have a baby.

Find out what your health insurance covers before and during pregnancy. For example, health plans have to cover preventive care services, like getting birth control to prevent pregnancy and vaccinations to protect you from certain diseases. Preventive care services help keep you healthy by preventing problems before they happen. If you’re choosing an insurance plan, think about what medical services and care you need now and what you’ll need if you get pregnant or have a baby.

What do you need to know about life insurance?

Life insurance pays money to certain people (for example, your partner or your children) when you die. You can buy life insurance on your own, or sometimes you can get it from your employer. There are different kinds of life insurance and lots of different companies that sell it. Talk with your partner about what kind of and how much life insurance you need.  

For life insurance, you need a list of beneficiaries. A beneficiary is someone who will get money from your life insurance when you die. Your partner and your children may be your beneficiaries. You also need to list beneficiaries in your will and for certain kinds of bank or savings accounts.

What is long-term disability insurance?

This kind of insurance gives money to you and your family if you get hurt or sick and can’t work. If you’re 35 to 55 years old, you’re more likely to get hurt or sick and not be able to work for 90 days or more than to die. So it’s important to have long-term disability to help take care of you and your family if you have to stop working because of a health condition. You can buy long-term disability insurance on your own, or sometimes you can get it from your employer. Talk with your partner about what kind of long-term disability insurance you need.

Do you need a will?

Yes. A will is a legal document that gives directions for what you want to happen when you die. In your will, you list your beneficiaries and what money or things you want each of them to get. You also say whom you want to take care of your children. You may want to hire a lawyer to help you write your will, or you can look online for information about how to do it yourself.

For more information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC Show Your Love Campaign

Last reviewed June, 2017