1. Schedule a preconception checkup with your ob-gyn
Making sure the mechanics are in good working order and knowing what things to do before getting pregnant is always a good idea before you decide to have a child. This is especially important if this will be your first pregnancy, you are over 35 and trying to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse, or you are currently or have previously suffered from endocrine issues or any other health problems that affect fertility. Your ob-gyn will offer you tailor-made advice on ovulation and how to get pregnant in a way that is healthy and safe for your body.
2. Inquire about your family’s medical history
One of the important things to do before getting pregnant is looking into your family's medical history. Talk to your parents and other family members about possible genetic diseases or chronic illnesses that have appeared in your ancestry. Speak to the women in your family and ask how they conceived, if they experienced any fertility issues, and what their pregnancies were like. If possible, talk to the father's family as well. Some genetic diseases can be discovered through testing, so if you or your partner are at risk, get tested before conceiving so you can be fully informed in regard to planning your family.
3. Go to the dentist
Dental health should be considered a major part of your overall health. Did you know that when you're pregnant, you're at higher risk for gum disease? Put "going to the dentist" on your list of things to do before getting pregnant so you can get a dental checkup and a professional cleaning. Dental work is riskier during pregnancy and pain medication is restricted, so if you have any outstanding problems, now is the time to take care of them. Continue to keep up good dental hygiene habits so you're less likely to slack during pregnancy.
4. Get vaccinated
There are lots of preventable diseases that can carry huge risks to an unborn baby. Your list of things to do before getting pregnant should include making sure your vaccinations are up to date. Talk to your doctor or parents or get a blood test to see if you're immunized against illnesses like chickenpox, measles, and mumps. You can also choose to get additional vaccinations, such as vaccines that protect against the flu and certain strains of HPV.
5. Plan your budget
While you might have lots of time ahead of you, pregnancy, especially the first trimester, can be exhausting. You probably won't want to break out a calculator and start doing your accounts when you're 10 weeks along. Budgeting ahead of time will give you peace of mind and alert you in advance if you need to make more room in your finances to fully care for a family. Start saving immediately for emergencies, too, as conception and pregnancy can sometimes bring up unforeseen medical costs, and you don't want to delay these because you don't have the funds.
6. Stop birth control
This might seem obvious, but if you have a hidden form of long-term birth control, like an IUD, you might forget about it during preconception. After all, if you can't see it or don't take it daily, it's easy to miss. Talk to your health care provider about the best way to go off birth control. Depending on the type, your fertility can return within days or months. Keep in mind that there may be hormonal changes following stopping birth control; if you experience anything unusual, be sure to contact a medical professional.
7. Take a prenatal supplement
Make sure your body is in top shape before getting pregnant by eating a healthy diet and taking a prenatal supplement. These supplements contain folic acid and other vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy conception, fetal development, and pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider about any supplements that you currently take; some of them may not be suitable for pregnancy, and you may need to switch them out before getting pregnant.
8. Steer clear of toxins
On a similar note, your list of things to do before getting pregnant should include eliminating toxins. Drugs, alcohol, and smoking are clearly harmful to your baby, but there are others you might not know about, such as vitamin A, found in over-the-counter skin care products. Pesticides and other chemicals can also be dangerous, as can unpasteurized dairy products. Do your research, and consult with a medical professional if you have concerns.
9. Make sure you’re eating the right fish
One of the things to do before getting pregnant should be to understand which types of seafood are healthy to eat and which are not. It's common knowledge that mercury can cause birth defects, and women can inadvertently consume it through fish during pregnancy. You should avoid species like swordfish and king mackerel during preconception to make sure your system is clear when you conceive. During pregnancy, you should limit fish like tuna and salmon to a couple of servings of a week, so get into this habit now. Don't eliminate fish altogether — when eaten as recommended, it provides healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
10. Do your Kegels
Kegels are easy and effective, but only if you do them regularly and well in advance of giving birth. There's no time like the present to start practicing Kegels, and the beauty is that you can do them anywhere and nobody will even know. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to do them daily, and talk to your health care provider about how to strengthen your vaginal walls further as your pregnancy advances and the due date gets closer.
There's a lot of information available about pregnancy, and it's important to be as prepared as possible. Use preconception as a time to get informed. Figure out what things to do before getting pregnant to make the whole process a little easier. Then all you have to do is enjoy it.