Preparing for pregnancy
The decision to have a baby is an exciting one. Even if you’re not quite ready to start trying to conceive, there are several steps you can take now to help promote a healthy pregnancy down the road.
Get to know your cycle
Start tracking your menstrual cycles, then use our interactive “When are you most fertile?” tool to determine when you have the best chance of conceiving.
Schedule a preconception appointment
While not mandatory, a preconception appointment can help you take charge of your health and is a good chance for you to find the right clinician to care for you throughout pregnancy. During this visit we will review your current health, personal and family medical history, and any medications you’re taking.
Aim for a healthy weight
Being at a healthy weight increases your chance of becoming pregnant. Having a high or low body mass index (BMI) can impact your ability to become pregnant. If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy BMI, talk to your clinician or schedule an appointment with a dietitian.
You can also learn more about nutritional needs during pregnancy at ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Start taking folic acid
Studies show folic acid can help protect your baby from serious birth defects of the brain and spine. Experts recommend women take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant. Many prenatal vitamins contain your daily recommendation of folic acid within a single multivitamin.
Ditch bad habits
If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Smoking can affect fertility and increase your risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight for your baby.
Alcohol can also affect fertility and increase your risk of birth defects or other problems. You may want to stop using alcohol while trying to get pregnant.
Review your finances
If you have health insurance, call your insurance company to find out what kind of prenatal coverage is offered. Plans can vary widely.
You also may want to look at how having a child will affect your everyday finances. The USDA’s cost of raising a child calculator can help you figure out if you’re financially ready.
If you don’t conceive immediately, don’t worry. It can take a healthy couple up to a year to achieve pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers answers to common questions about evaluating and treating infertility.