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Home > Learn > Getting Pregnant > >How to Prepare for Pregnancy: Five Things To Do Before Getting Pregnant

How to Prepare for Pregnancy: Five Things To Do Before Getting Pregnant

Jan 30, 24 10 min

Planning to have a baby is super exciting, but can also feel overwhelming. It’s normal to feel like you have a million things to do, but still wonder if you’re missing an important step—so we’ve put together a comprehensive (but not impossible) list of things you can do to prepare for pregnancy. 

By OBGYN Dr. Nazaneen Homaifar

Okay, so you’re having a baby soon—what do you need to do?

1. Take a Look at Your Habits, Diet, and Stress Levels

When preparing for pregnancy, it’s important to take steps to be as healthy as possible. You want to provide your future family member with a safe, happy, and healthy home, and that starts by changing or enhancing your current lifestyle. You’ll want to make sure you are dealing with any stress in a healthy way, eating a healthy diet, taking prenatal vitamins, and exercising regularly. [1] 

Stress

The most important thing you can focus on right now is staying healthy and happy—which means, as hard as it sounds, not stressing too much. Yeah, it’s annoying to be asked not to stress out as part of a long list of things you have to do—but think of this thing, “self-care,” as your one non-negotiable. From indulging in a pregnancy care package to starting your days off with a morning meditation, prioritizing moments of self-care is key to reducing stress.

Diet

One part of pre-baby self-care is diet. That doesn’t mean you need an app, or a list, or a new Instagram obsession (but if those help you, go for it!) It just means you should try to eat healthily—meaning plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and maybe go easy on the McDonald’s runs. [1]  Learn what foods to eat to promote fertility. 

Prenatal Multivitamin

Another thing to add to your routine is a prenatal vitamin for women that contains at least 400 mcg of folate (learn about folate vs folic acid) because it helps with the production of new red blood cells and reduces the risk of neural tube defects, like spina bifida. [1] Spina bifida is a condition where a fetus’s spinal cord and spine don’t form the way they’re supposed to—taking a folate supplement before pregnancy will help to prevent that. We’d also recommend that you check out the recommendations for vitamin supplementation in pregnancy so that you can figure out whether or not you’re hitting all of those bases already, and if you’re not, you can change your diet a bit or add some more supplements. [2] Not a fan of swallowing pills? Natalist Prenatal Gummies include premium ingredients packed into a yummy, chewable vitamin. 

Exercise

Exercise is another important aspect of self-care when you’re getting ready for pregnancy. You don’t have to run marathons, but it’s a great time to get into a solid exercise routine. ACOG recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week. [1] Most exercises are safe during pregnancy, except your super-high-impact workouts where there is a potential to hurt your abdomen (we worry about its risks to your placenta and oxygenation to the fetus). [3] If your usual workout is horseback riding or kickboxing, you might want to cross-train with another exercise routine that you can continue throughout pregnancy. Spinning, swimming, and modified yoga or pilates all do the trick, and there are many more options—but maybe wait on your dream to take up the trapeze. [3] 

2. Get Your Vaccines Up-to-Date

If you haven’t been in or around a school for a while, and you haven’t worked in a hospital, you might have no idea if your vaccinations are up to date. It’s a good idea to look at your medical records and make sure you’ve received all your shots. In fact, we recommend starting with a preconception visit with a nurse practitioner, midwife, physician assistant or doctor to go through your relevant personal and family history, recent travel, medications, and vaccinations before you get pregnant to check for any red flags (like the need for Zika screening). [1,4] 

Some of the conditions we vaccinate for—like Rubella, aka German Measles—can spread from mama to fetus during pregnancy or nursing. [4] Certain live vaccines like varicella and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella are contraindicated in pregnancy and, once born, babies can’t receive the vaccinations until they’ve reached a certain age. If you do need some vaccinations, talk to your doctor about how long you need to wait before trying to get pregnant. 

3. Budget

I know, I know—we said not to stress out, and now we’re bringing up money. But it’s hard not to think about it. Having a baby requires a lot of stuff, and while you may be able to get hand-me-downs for a lot of it, you’ll probably have to spring for things like diapers.

It’s no surprise that raising a child is expensive, but how much do you think a baby will actually cost in the first year? Let’s do a little budget exercise: 

First Year Costs

Childcare

$

Medical bills

$

Food / Formula

$

Car seat 

$

Stroller

$

Crib

$

Toys

$

Clothes

$

Other expenses

$

TOTAL FIRST YEAR COSTS

$


So, what did you come up with? The truth is, the actual cost can vary greatly depending on your location, income, family size, and much more. When comparing two recent analyses, the total cost of raising a child in one year can range from about $13,186 to over $18,000 on average. [5-6] For a majority of surveyed parents, the cost of raising a newborn for one year took up to 30% of their annual household income. [5] 

So, as you likely suspected, it can be very expensive to grow your family (but oh so worth it!) Now that you have a general idea of what to expect, you can have a better look at your finances and plan accordingly. Whatever you’re able to save and prepare for now can save you some stress and time down the road. 

4. Prioritize Your Mental Health

We say “it’s normal” a lot, but we want to emphasize that it is super normal to have lots of emotions about preparing for pregnancy. This is a big change. It’s going to affect your body, your relationship, your daily routine, your bank account—basically, your whole future. [1] That’s a great thing. It’s also a lot. If you’re worried, don’t feel guilty about that.

You might get into a tough emotional place during pregnancy, especially if you’ve had anxiety or depression before. [7] That’s super common. If you’ve ever been on medications, like anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, talk to your doctor about the plan for continuing them. Not only are many of these medications safe in pregnancy, but they are recommended to continue since symptoms can be exacerbated in pregnancy. [7] If you’ve got the bad kind of stomach butterflies, we recommend working with a talk therapist—they can help you sort through and get comfy with your fears. We’re alone so much in our modern world, and we weren’t always. Generally speaking, pregnant women and couples used to have more familial and social support during and after pregnancy than most of us do now. Wanting or needing support from other people is just as human as pregnancy is. 

5. Check In On Your Relationship 

If you’re going through this process with a partner, talk to them about how you will handle these changes and the possible roller coaster together. We hope everything will be smooth sailing, but it’s hard to ignore the statistics. Miscarriages happen. It may take longer than expected to get pregnant. Sometimes the sex for baby-making is lackluster. The symptoms of early pregnancy may take a heavier toll on you than expected. You may process these ups and downs differently – how will you help support each other? Natalist has put together a workbook for hopeful and soon-to-be parents that can help you navigate through tough, exciting, and unique conversations. Shop Parent Plans now → 

On a more somber note, many pregnant women are abused by their partners. If a person with whom you’re in an intimate relationship intentionally physically, emotionally, or sexually harms you, that is abuse. No one deserves to be abused. Abuse during pregnancy is a huge risk to the woman and her fetus and the cycle usually continues with subsequent abuse to one’s children. The first step to breaking this violent pattern is to tell someone: a close friend or family member, a nurse or doctor, or counselor or social worker. You can search the internet for emergency hotline numbers for where you live.  

Preparing for Pregnancy With Natalist

Getting pregnant is a big, sometimes scary, exciting life event. The more planning and self-educating that you can do, the more you’ll be able to thrive, through pregnancy and into motherhood. The good thing is that if you’re reading this list, you’re already taking the steps that will get you there. Natalist is here to support you from your family planning stage to your postpartum stage. Discover products like our women’s fertility test, male prenatal packets, self-care bundles, and more. We’d also recommend that you check out more Natalist articles so that you can continue to educate yourself and prepare for what’s ahead. We’re rooting for you! 


References:

  1. Good Health Before Pregnancy: Prepregnancy Care. ACOG. FAQ 056. December 2021. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/good-health-before-pregnancy-prepregnancy-care
  2. Nutrition During Pregnancy. ACOG. FAQ 001. June 2023.  https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/nutrition-during-pregnancy
  3. Exercise During Pregnancy. ACOG. FAQ 119. March 2022. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-during-pregnancy
  4. Fowler JR, Jenkins SM, Jack BW. Preconception Counseling. [Updated 2023 Jun 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan
  5. Brown, Mike. On Average, Raising a Child Costs $13,186 in First Year. Lend EDU. May 2023. https://lendedu.com/blog/cost-of-newborn-baby/#results
  6. Shinn, Lora. New Baby Budget: Costs for the First Year. BECU. April 2023. https://www.becu.org/blog/new-baby-budget-costs-for-the-first-year
  7. Depression During Pregnancy. ACOG. FAQ 515. May 2023. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/depression-during-pregnancy

Originally published 08/05/2019. Updated for accuracy and relevancy on 01/30/2024.

Dr. Nazaneen Homaifar is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist (OBGYN) and a Medical Advisor at Natalist. Dr. Naz earned her medical degree from the Duke University School of Medicine and her MBA from Harvard Business School. She completed a residency in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at UCSF. She is a member of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Naz enjoys guiding patients through many areas of reproductive and sexual health. 

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