Healthy Pregnancy Timetable
If you're serious about getting pregnant-or if you're already trying-you may be sorting through a whole lot of unsolicited advice and health tips. What's really important?
"Make your health a priority this year," says Tracy Gaudet, M.D., director of the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine and author of Body, Soul, and Baby. "You'll have time to really tune in to your body and change any bad habits before you conceive."
One year before, get a physical exam.
You might imagine that your ob-gyn should be the first to hear about your pregnancy plans, but talk with your regular doctor to find out how your health may affect your ability to conceive and carry a baby to term. Make sure that, in your physical exam, you address:
- Your blood pressure readings Ideally, your blood pressure readings should be lower than 120/80. Borderline hypertension (120-139/80-89) or high blood pressure (140/90) predisposes you to preeclampsia, a pregnancy high-blood-pressure disorder that can decrease blood flow to the fetus and increase the risk of premature birth; it can also raise your odds of stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease down the line. If your blood pressure is high, cut back on sodium, up your exercise level, or take medication (many are safe, even during pregnancy).
- Your blood sugar levels If you have diabetes, a family history of the disease, or certain risk factors such as extra weight or irregular periods, request a hemoglobin A1c test-it'll reveal your average glucose levels for the past three months. "High levels could mean your body is producing extra insulin, which can interfere with ovulation and lead to pregnancy complications," says Potter. High blood sugar levels also up your risk for gestational diabetes, which affects up to 7 percent of pregnant women.