Learn what you can do before and during pregnancy to improve your chances of having a healthy baby.
What steps can I take to have the healthiest pregnancy possible?
Be sure to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
- Folic acid is important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. These birth defects develop very early during pregnancy when the neural tube—which forms the early brain and spinal cord—does not close properly. Start taking folic acid at least one month before becoming pregnant and continue during pregnancy.
Book a visit with your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any medicine.
- Many women need to take medicine to treat a health condition during pregnancy. If you are planning to become pregnant, discuss your current medicines with a healthcare provider, such as a doctor or pharmacist. Creating a treatment plan for your health condition before you are pregnant can help keep you and your developing baby healthy.
Become up-to-date with all vaccinations, including the flu shot.
- Vaccines help protect you and your developing baby against serious diseases. Get a flu shot and whooping cough vaccination (called Tdap) during each pregnancy to help protect yourself and your baby.
- Flu: You can get the flu shot before or during each pregnancy.
- Whooping Cough: You can get the whooping cough vaccine in the last three months of each pregnancy.
Before you get pregnant, try to reach a healthy weight.
- An unhealthy weight increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications. If you are underweight, overweight, or obese, talk with your healthcare provider about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Focus on a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.
Boost your health by avoiding harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
- Alcohol: There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beer. Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, so it’s important to stop drinking alcohol when you start trying to get pregnant.
- Tobacco: Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and other major health problems. Smoking during pregnancy can also harm the developing baby and can cause certain birth defects. It’s best to quit smoking before you get pregnant. But if you’re already pregnant, quitting can still help protect you and your baby from health problems. Quitting smoking will help you feel better and provide a healthier environment for your baby.
- Other drugs: Using certain drugs during pregnancy can cause health problems for a woman and her developing baby. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant and can’t stop using drugs―get help! A healthcare provider can help you with counseling, treatment, and other support services.
Page last reviewed: January 14, 2019