Having a positive pregnancy test opens the door to a world of mixed emotions. For most women, this brings excitement, joy and anticipation but for others, a positive test brings fear, worry and dread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended…meaning not wanted or not planned for at that time. So whether you are trying to become pregnant or don’t want to have a baby right now, having some basic information is helpful.
If your answer is YES, you would like to get pregnant; here are a few things you should be doing in order to help improve your chance of having a healthy pregnancy and newborn.
- START TAKING A PRENATAL VITAMIN DAILY. A prenatal vitamin contains more folic acid than a regular multivitamin. Having adequate folic acid during the first few weeks of pregnancy (even before you know you are pregnant) is vital for normal brain and spine development in your baby.
- MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT. Being overweight or underweight carries the potential for complications during pregnancy and may affect the health of your newborn.
- BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but everyone should exercise on a regular basis, meaning almost every day. Being physically active before, during and after pregnancy helps to regulate weight, improve body function and metabolism and positively impacts emotional health.
- EAT A HEALTHY DIET. Focus on eating foods that haven’t been processed and avoid excess sugar, salt and fat. Lean sources of protein should be included in a healthy diet.
- STOP SMOKING. Ask for tools or programs that can help you quit.
- AVOID ALL ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE. Even megadoses of vitamins, over-the-counter medications or medicated skin creams may threaten the health of your newborn. Talk to your provider if you are planning to get pregnant soon.
- VISIT YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER ON A REGULAR BASIS. Your provider knows what screening should be done, can help detect problems early on, can help manage chronic conditions and provide vital health education.
If your answer is NO, you don’t want to become pregnant now, using some type of birth control consistently and correctly is essential. Look for reliable sources of information on the internet regarding contraception, for example the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), WebMD or Bedsider.org. Remember preventing pregnancy and preventing a sexually transmitted infection are two different things. Come talk to us about your specific risks, your health and the best contraception for you.