Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Doctor's View on Pregnancy Planning and Lifestyle Changes
Comment by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
If you're planning on trying to conceive, you can start to prepare for a
healthy pregnancy even before you get pregnant. The following tips will help you
prepare your body for the healthiest possible outcome. You may find it
helpful to schedule a preconception checkup with your doctor to discuss
preparation for pregnancy.
Diet and Lifestyle
Pay particular attention to consuming a healthy diet and getting enough
exercise. Both diet and exercise are important in a healthy pregnancy, and the
best time to establish these good habits is before you conceive.
You can also
start taking prenatal vitamins before you're pregnant in order to reduce the
risk of neural tube defects in your baby. The neural tube eventually forms the
brain and spinal cord, and it begins developing in the first month of gestation.
So taking the vitamins before you conceive helps maintain adequate vitamin
levels in early pregnancy. Increasing your intake of folic acid is also
If you smoke or drink alcohol, you should quit if you are planning to
Medical Conditions and Medications
If you have chronic medical conditions, schedule a visit with your doctor to
discuss how pregnancy may change or affect the management of these conditions
(for example, diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure).
You also may need to review any medications you are taking to be sure
that they are safe to take during your pregnancy. You may need to switch to a
different drug or treatment plan during your pregnancy.
If you have any sexually
transmitted diseases (STDs) or at risk for contracting STDs, be sure that you
are screened and treated before conceiving. Many STDs can cause problems for the
baby during pregnancy.
Check with your doctor to be sure that your vaccines are current.
Certain infections can be dangerous to the developing fetus.