Thinking about getting pregnant or trying to conceive? UPMC Health Plan is here to help you start off on the right foot. Our maternity health coaches can help you prepare an action plan that can give you a better pregnancy experience. Here are some tips to get started:
See your PCP. Talk to your health care provider about health or medical conditions you have now or have had in the past. If you are receiving treatment for a health problem, your doctor might want to discuss management options if or when you get pregnant. Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, certain medications, and many other factors can affect your ability to get pregnant, carry and deliver a healthy baby.1
Choose an ob-gyn or certified nurse-midwife. If you’re planning on getting pregnant soon, it’s a good idea to start researching health care providers you would like to care for you and your baby. Ask friends, relatives, or even your PCP for a recommendation.2 Some major things to consider while you’re looking:
- Your health history
- The caregiver’s delivery philosophy
Eat right. That means a balanced diet complete with protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a controlled amount of sweets and fats, as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).3
Take prenatal vitamins. Taking a prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid and iron is beneficial before a mother knows she is pregnant. Folic acid can help reduce the risk of serious birth defects that affect the brain and spinal cord. For this reason, the FDA recommends that all women of childbearing age take folic acid supplements.4 The Mayo Clinic suggests taking iron to support a fetus’ growth and development—and specifically to prevent anemia.4 Calcium and vitamin D are important during a mother’s third trimester for the baby’s bones to grow and gain strength.6 Ask your PCP for prenatal vitamin recommendations.
Get an ovulation calculator. Menstrual cycles are different for everyone, so tracking your period, ovulation, and symptoms can be helpful. Track your fertility by using our ovulation calculator, which can help you know when you are most fertile!
Quit smoking, drinking, and taking drugs—and reduce exposure to environmental hazards. Nicotine, drugs, alcohol, and environmental hazards such as cigarettes can harm an unborn fetus.5 Our maternity health coaches have resources to help you address these issues, at no cost to you, before or after you get pregnant.
Consider genetic counseling. If you have a chronic health condition that puts you at a higher risk during pregnancy, you may want to consider genetic counseling so you can learn more about your genes, birth defect risks, and other medical issues that could alter you or your baby’s health.6 Ask your ob-gyn if you should have a genetic counseling consultation.