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The Importance of Preconception Care

Preconception Care

Preparing for pregnancy with preconception care maximizes the health of both the mother and baby. There are a number of strategies to use that can boost both your physical and emotional well-being throughout the pregnancy journey. Follow these preconception health tips to help improve your odds of getting pregnant and enhancing your overall wellness. 

The benefits of preconception care

Preconception care comes with a host of benefits for both the mother and baby. You can boost your diet and supplements to better support a healthy pregnancy, while also lowering the risk of birth defects in your child. Taking steps to achieve or maintain a healthy weight also reduces the risk of premature birth and the development of health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. 

While pregnancy-related deaths have increased in the U.S., taking healthy steps before conception can help reduce mortality risks and improve overall outcomes for mom and baby.

Preconception care for women

Wondering where to start in your preconception pregnancy journey? Begin by getting a general health check-up with your healthcare provider to see if you have any underlying or chronic conditions to address. If you have existing prescription medications that you take, discuss any potential pregnancy risks associated with them. There may be alternatives or other ways to manage your health concerns that are more conducive to a healthy pregnancy. 

Also talk about adding a preconception vitamin to your daily routine. Folic acid is an important B vitamin recommended for expectant mothers by the CDC. It contributes to healthy brain and spine development in babies. Ask your doctor or fertility specialist for recommendations when swapping out a regular multivitamin for a prenatal vitamin.

Finally, start eliminating unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol use. Your doctor can be a helpful resource in making lasting changes in these areas.

Preconception care for men

Men's fertility also plays a role in preconception care and there are a few helpful actions to take before trying to conceive with a partner. Just like women, men can get regular medical checkups to address any general health concerns and check on the impact of any current prescriptions on fertility. It's also best practice to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight. Quit smoking and limit alcohol use to optimize sperm health, including sperm count and motility. 

Men can also benefit from a prenatal vitamin that supports healthy sperm production. Talk to your doctor or fertility specialist for recommendations, especially if you have any health concerns that may warrant extra care. When paired with women's preconception care, these helpful strategies for men can minimize potential fertility issues and optimize the chances of getting pregnant.

The role of nutrition in preconception care

A healthy preconception diet is an important part of your care routine before getting pregnant. It's best to start making these changes at least a few months before trying to conceive, if not even sooner. Supplements are helpful, but it's even better to get extra servings of vitamins in nutrients through whole foods. 

Focus on adding more dark leafy greens, citrus, nuts, and whole grains into your diet. Increasing your calcium through dairy, salmon, and sardines is also recommended as part of a healthy preconception and prenatal diet.  Also consider reducing your caffeine intake, which has been shown to reduce fertility by 27% when more than 200 to 300 mg is consumed daily. 

The role of stress management in preconception care

While taking care of your physical health is a priority before and during pregnancy, your mental health is just as important. Studies reveal that high levels of stress can contribute to health issues like high blood pressure and heart disease. It also increases the rate of premature labor and low birth weight babies.

Before you start stressing over being stressed, follow some of these self-care tips before and during pregnancy (and during the postpartum period, as well!). 

  • Get plenty of sleep each night

  • Create a relaxing nighttime routine — think herbal teas, a bubble bath, and a good book

  • Take a daily walk

  • Practice meditation, gratitude, and/or prayer regularly 

  • Find a friend or therapist to confide in

The role of reproductive planning in preconception care

Your preconception care plan shouldn't be a solo effort. Instead, consider bringing in your healthcare provider or fertility specialist to help create a comprehensive family plan before you start trying to get pregnant. That way you can make informed decisions based on your specific medical history and goals. You may already know you or your partner have fertility issues or you may identify red flags that could be mitigated with a solid plan. 

Not only does family planning with a healthcare professional help you prepare for a healthy pregnancy, it also gives you a strong support system from the beginning. Pregnancy and parenthood come with both physical and emotional challenges, no matter what your fertility journey may be. Surrounding yourself with a community of people invested in your care can make a huge difference in your experience. 

The role of vaccines in preconception care

Vaccinations are a vital part of the preconception care process. Medical professionals recommend a few specific ones to help protect both the mother and baby from serious illness during pregnancy and following labor and delivery. Be sure to discuss your vaccination history with your healthcare professional during the preconception period to make sure you're up to date on all the recommended dosages. Some cannot be administered once you're pregnant, so this is a crucial step of your preconception care process.

The most commonly recommended vaccines during this period include hepatitis B and the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines. Your doctor will likely also discuss vaccines against HPV, varicella, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. 


Preconception care can make a world of difference in your chances of achieving a successful pregnancy, as well as the health and well-being of both the mother and baby throughout pregnancy. 

Talk to your healthcare professional as soon as you're considering growing your family. Together, you'll craft a completely personalized set of recommendations based on your own medical history and lifestyle habits. You'll feel confident knowing that you're setting a solid foundation of health for you and your future baby, no matter what lies on the road ahead. 

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2023 12:00 AM

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