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Pregnancy Planning

Pregnancy Planning Facts

  • Pregnancy planning can address issues of nutrition, vitamins, body weight, exercise, and potentially harmful medications and illnesses as well as immunizations and genetic counseling.
  • Women who take folic acid at least four weeks prior to conception can reduce their baby's risk of birth defects of the spinal cord and skull by 70%.
  • Alcohol has been implicated in infertility, early miscarriage, and birth defects and other problems for the baby.
  • Certain acne medications, other prescriptions, and OTC medications can cause birth defects.
  • Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been tied to microcephaly and eye defects in babies.
  • Babies of older women have an increased risk of having chromosomal abnormalities.
  • The timing of sexual intercourse in relation to ovulation does not influence the gender of the baby.

Pregnancy Planning Overview

Patient Comments

Having a baby is one of the most important events in a woman's life. Women considering pregnancy are encouraged to start planning for the pregnancy with their partners and healthcare professionals early. Such preparation is called pregnancy planning. The goal is to create a healthy environment for the fetus and to prevent birth defects and other pregnancy related problems to the greatest extent possible. The issues addressed during pregnancy planning include nutrition, vitamins, body weight, exercise, avoidance of certain medications and alcohol, immunizations, and genetic counseling. Even though many women will have normal pregnancies without any preparation, pregnancy planning improves the chances of a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby. Unfortunately, many more women who are anticipating conceiving do not seek prior medical consultation.

Pregnancy planning can help prevent exposure of the mother to potentially harmful medications or substances during the early days of pregnancy. The baby's organs begin developing as early as 17 days after conception, and the fertilized egg begins to grow even before the first day of the missed period. Some women continue to have light bleeding that may be mistaken for a menstrual period during the first few months of pregnancy and may not even realize that they are pregnant. Others may not recognize that they are pregnant until they experience weight gain or abdominal enlargement. By then, they may have already been exposed to medications or substances potentially harmful to the fetus.

In addition to avoiding medications and substances that are potentially harmful to the fetus, other important health issues are addressed during pre-pregnancy planning.

The effects of diet, exercise, and each of the medical conditions previously discussed will be reviewed below.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/16/2016

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Pregnancy Planning:

Pregnancy Planning - Lifestyle Changes

Please describe the changes you have made to your lifestyle in preparation for becoming pregnant.

Pregnancy Planning - Pregnancy Calculator

Please share your experience with using a pregnancy calculator.

Pregnancy Planning - Diet

What changes have you made in your diet in preparation for your pregnancy?

Pregnancy Planning - Exercise

Are you planning on getting in shape prior to becoming pregnant? If so, share your exercise plan with us.



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