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How do I plan for a pregnancy?

Pre-pregnancy planning keeps you — and your future baby — as healthy as possible. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, visit a doctor for pre-pregnancy care.

Thinking about getting pregnant?

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What do I need to do before I get pregnant?

There’s lots you can do to get ready for your pregnancy and make sure you — and your future baby — are as healthy as possible. Visiting your doctor or local Planned Parenthood health center for pre-pregnancy care is a great first step.

Pre-pregnancy care (also called preconception care) helps find issues that could affect your pregnancy, so you and your doctor can take steps to avoid potential problems. Your nurse or doctor will talk with you about your physical and mental health, and give you any exams or screenings you might need to help make sure you have a healthy pregnancy. They can also give you tips on how to get pregnant.

Your doctor will talk with you about your:

  • medical history and family’s medical history

  • current health issues

  • diet, vitamins, and lifestyle

  • safety of any medications/supplements you’re taking

  • pregnancy history

  • safety at home and work

  • mental health concerns

Your doctor will probably also recommend that you go to your dentist for a checkup. If you have gum disease, getting treatment before pregnancy may prevent health problems in you and your future baby.

Pre-pregnancy visits are a great time to ask questions, so come prepared to ask about anything you’re wondering about.

Do I need to worry about having a high-risk pregnancy?

Probably not — high-risk pregnancies are pretty rare.

There are many things that can happen during your pregnancy that you can’t control, and sometimes things go wrong for random or unknown reasons. However, there are lots of things you can do to help avoid problems and make sure you and your pregnancy stay as healthy as possible.

Getting pre-pregnancy care from your nurse, doctor, or local Planned Parenthood health center before you get pregnant, and having regular prenatal care visits throughout your pregnancy are great ways to help lower your chances of having a high-risk pregnancy.

Certain conditions can make pregnancy more difficult. It’s especially important to get pre-pregnancy care if you:

  • have high blood pressure, or heart or kidney disease

  • have other chronic conditions, like diabetes, lupus, or HIV/AIDS

  • have a history of miscarriages, stillbirths, or premature births

  • know you’re at risk of having a child with birth defects or a genetic disorder

  • have a sexually transmitted infection

  • are underweight or overweight

  • are older than 35

What’s my partner’s role in planning my pregnancy?

Your partner can play a big role, if you want them to. Encouragement and emotional support can be really helpful and important, especially if you’re making changes to your lifestyle as you get ready for pregnancy.

Your partner or sperm donor’s health is also important when it comes to getting pregnant. Diet and lifestyle can lower sperm count and semen quality. This can make it harder to get pregnant.  

Some things that can lower sperm count include:

  • drinking alcohol

  • smoking or using other kinds of tobacco

  • using steroids

  • using illegal drugs

  • using certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines

  • recent and frequent time in very hot environments (i.e., hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms)

  • having an unhealthy diet

Talk to your partner about making lifestyle choices that can help their health and your future pregnancy.

Do I need a new doctor once I get pregnant?

If you already have a gynecologist, midwife, or family doctor that you like, you may be able to keep seeing them throughout your pregnancy. If you want to switch to a different nurse or doctor, friends, family members, and other nurses or doctors may have recommendations. You can also get prenatal care, or help finding a doctor in your area, from your local Planned Parenthood health center.

It’s super important that you like your doctor or midwife and feel comfortable talking honestly with them about what kind of pregnancy and birth you want to have. You may want to interview any nurse or doctor who will be helping you while you're pregnant, in labor, and giving birth ahead of time. And it’s totally okay to move on to someone new if you don’t feel comfortable.

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