Planning for a Healthy Baby
It’s never too early to start planning for a healthy baby. Get support and guidance from the compassionate team at Virginia Hospital Center—so you can have the safest, smoothest pregnancy possible.
One Year Before Pregnancy
Up to a year before you become pregnant:
- Discuss your health, family history and plans to get pregnant with your gynecologist or primary care provider
- Ask your doctor about genetic testing to assess your risk of experiencing or passing on a genetic disorder
- Exercise regularly, doing activities you enjoy, such as fitness classes at Virginia Hospital Center
- Quit smoking if you smoke
Low body weight and intense, frequent exercise can make it harder to get pregnant and cause growth problems for your baby. Talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight and exercise routine looks like for you.
Six Months Before Pregnancy
Be sure to:
- Create a plan with your doctor to manage any health conditions you have, such as anxiety, depression, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure) or type I diabetes
- Work with your doctor to determine if you should stop or change any medications or supplements
If possible, avoid traveling to places where you risk exposure to Zika. If you or your partner are infected with the Zika virus, your baby could develop a birth defect. Talk to your doctor if you or your partner lives in or travels to an area known to have mosquitos with Zika virus.
Three Months Before Pregnancy
- Start taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida
- Eat a healthy diet and limit caffeine
- Make sure your vaccinations are up to date
Ready to Conceive
If you use birth control, talk to your doctor about stopping. The amount of time it takes for your body to be able to get pregnant depends on the type of contraception you were using.
When you want to become pregnant:
- Make an appointment with your doctor to learn how to predict your most fertile time to have unprotected sex
- Avoid alcohol
Talk with your doctor or make an appointment with a fertility specialist if you:
- Have concerns about your fertility or your partner’s fertility
- Are in your 20s or 30s and have unprotected sex for six to eight months without becoming pregnant
- Are 40 or older and have unprotected sex for three months without becoming pregnant
If your primary care provider does not offer prenatal care or deliver babies, find an additional provider—such as a Virginia Hospital Center obstetrician (OB) or midwife—for specialized care.
During your pregnancy:
- Get regular prenatal care on the schedule your doctor recommends to monitor your health and your baby’s health
- Receive immunizations your doctor recommends, such as the flu vaccine and, 30 weeks into your pregnancy, the Tdap vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)
- Learn about your labor and delivery options at Virginia Hospital Center and create your birth plan
- Read the checklist for expecting parents
- Take pregnancy and childbirth classes