You don't have to be a saint to be a candidate for motherhood, but it doesn't hurt to have a few saintly habits.
Since no safe level of alcohol consumption has been established for pregnancy, most doctors suggest that you abstain entirely rather than flirting with the possibility of giving birth to a baby with serious developmental and behavioral problems, and other anomalies. Ditto for street drugs: they're just plain bad news for babies and mothers-to- be.
And as for smoking: well it shouldn't be news to you that smoking's a no-no, too. Not only has smoking been linked to premature birth and low-birthweight babies: it can also increase your newborn baby's susceptibility to SIDS and other health problems.
Don't pop any medication in your mouth -- prescription or over-the-counter -- without checking with your doctor to ensure that it's safe to use once you start trying to conceive. (He may want to fiddle with your prescription meds a little -- perhaps changing you to a less harmful drug or taking you off medications altogether for the foreseeable future.)
Bear in mind that even "natural" herbal products can pose a significant risk to a developing baby, particularly since many of these products have not been tested on pregnant women.
The final step in your countdown to conception is to lose the birth control. If you've been using the birth control pill or some other form of hormonal birth control (e.g. implants or injections), you'll need to wait for at least one normal period before you start trying to conceive -- something that makes it easier for your caregiver to pinpoint your due date.
If the intra-uterine device (IUD) has been your birth control method of choice, you'll still need to put on the brakes momentarily: most doctors recommend that you wait for at least one normal period before you start trying to conceive.
While there are no guarantees in the reproductive world, it only makes sense to do what you can to tilt the roulette wheel in your favor. With any luck, you'll walk away with the ultimate prize: a healthy baby.
Preconception planning isn't just a girl thing. It's also important for fathers-to-be. Here are some important health issues you and your partner should be thinking about if there's a baby in your future:
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