Prep your body for pregnancy

Feb 28, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. ET

You’ve decided that it’s time to have a baby! Congratulations, your family is about to grow. But before your family grows in numbers, your body will be doing a ton of growing and changing during your pregnancy. These tips will help get your body and mind ready for the changes to come.

Pre-pregnancy to-do checklist

Here is a simple, easy to follow to-do list of actions to take before you begin the journey of trying to conceive and pregnancy.

Prenatal vitamins and folic acid

Begin taking folic acid supplements on a daily basis before becoming pregnant. The current recommended daily intake amount of folic acid for women who are not pregnant is 400 mcg. The Centers for Disease Control suggests that women begin taking folic acid one month before trying to conceive to reduce the risk of neural-tube defects by up to 70 percent. Once pregnant, the recommended daily dose increases to 600 to 800 mcg, but always check with your doctor to see what the recommended dose is for your body based on your health and family history.

Start taking prenatal vitamins at the same time you begin taking your folic acid supplements -- at least a month before trying to conceive. Or check your prenatal vitamins to make sure they contain the recommended daily amount of folic acid.

Well check visits

Catch up on all your doctor's appointments -- including dental. Make sure your shots are current, your health is in good standing and your teeth are not in need of any immediate care. While preventative dental cleanings and exams are safe during pregnancy, increased pregnancy hormones can increase irritation to your gums – causing them to bleed and swell. Taking care of your teeth and gums is an important part of pregnancy, as gum disease has been linked to preterm birth.

Dental health during pregnancy >>

Check your medicine

Consult your doctor about any over-the-counter medication, prescription medications, herbs and/or supplements that you are currently taking. Many over-the-counter medications, herbs, supplements and prescription medications are not considered safe for pregnancy, but your doctor can help provide you with alternatives that are safe.


Start or continue your daily fitness routine. If you are already on a daily or weekly fitness regimen, continue it as long as your doctor says it's safe. If you are looking to begin a low-impact fitness schedule during pregnancy, look into prenatal yoga or prenatal exercise programs designed for pregnant women.

Health insurance

Review your health insurance coverage for pregnancy and birth, as well as maternity and paternity leave coverage and ask any questions you may have before getting pregnant.

Healthy diet

Continue your diet or change your diet to a healthier one. If you smoke, quit smoking long before you become pregnant. Many doctors recommend that women limit or cut out all alcohol and caffeine intake well before trying to conceive. Some women prefer to see a nutritionist before trying to get pregnant for the additional support and guidance when it comes to eating for two.

Exercising while pregnant >>

More on trying to conceive

5 Things you should know when you're trying to get pregnant
Make lifestyle changes before conceiving
Planning a pregnancy? 10 steps to take