Your first pregnancy to-dos
By the time you reach your first prenatal appointment, or week 8 of pregnancy, most of your baby’s organ systems will have developed and begun growing at a rapid pace.
So if you think you might be pregnant, don’t wait for that first positive test or obstetrician appointment to begin preparing yourself physically for becoming a mother.
Contributed by Jessica Remitz
Make a preconception appointment
If you can, schedule a preconception visit with your obstetrician or midwife. Talk about getting immunizations up to date, clearing up any existing infections, reviewing your medications and getting genetic counseling if needed. While you’re at it, get your blood sugar checked — very high levels put a baby at risk for heart and neural tube defects. Make sure to protect yourself against any infections, including chickenpox and sexually transmitted diseases, as you begin trying to conceive.
Start with supplements
Begin taking folic acid supplements (400 micrograms daily) at least one month before trying to conceive. Once you’ve become pregnant, keep it up with a prenatal vitamin to help cover any nutrient deficiencies. Getting enough folic acid, iron and calcium is especially important, so check your brand of vitamin to make sure you’re getting enough.
Don’t smoke cigarettes or use recreational drugs while trying to conceive, or if you think you might be pregnant. Alcohol, in any amount, is also off-limits throughout pregnancy.
Avoid the litterbox, among other things
Try to stay away from harsh chemicals, pesticides, solvents, lead and mercury, as well as medically unnecessary X-rays, which can affect a fetus in early pregnancy. Additionally, avoid contact with cat feces, which can transmit toxoplasmosis, a dangerous infection.
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Consult your doctor with questions
Don’t take any herbal remedies or over-the-counter medications without asking your doctor about them first. Bring questions with you to your preconception and prenatal appointments to make sure all of your concerns regarding your health and the health of your baby are being addressed.
Read more: Safe medications for pregnancy >>
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
You’ll never stop hearing this throughout your pregnancy (and once the baby comes), but you’ll need to drink plenty of fluids every day. Dehydration, especially during the first trimester, is common during pregnancy and can be dangerous if not treated. Stay out of hot tubs and saunas, and don’t get too overheated during exercise if you can help it.
Read more: Smoothie recipes to get the nutrients you need >>
Rethink your sushi order
If you think you may be pregnant, pass on any raw meat or fish (including sushi), and avoid unpasteurized cheeses or other foods that can harbor dangerous bacteria (such as listeria) and could give you a food-borne illness.