You have thought about it, you are ready.  You have discussed it with your partner/spouse and think it’s the right time.  Mentally and physically your body can handle it along with your bank account.  Here is a list of 20 things that you should do before you become pregnant.

Fuel up on folic acid– Most prenatal vitamins contain at least 400mgs of folic acid.

Just say no to partying– You should be OK with this if you are going to step into parenthood anyway.  You should give up smoking, drinking and drugs.  They can affect your health along with your chances of getting pregnant.

Give that cup of joe the heave-ho– Sad I know, but caffeine affects your ability to absorb iron which you need plenty of during your pregnancy and it increases your chances of a still birth.  Instead of stopping cold turkey, try half-decaf and half-caffeinated to avoid the headaches. 

Get your weight in check– Studies show that women who are at a healthy weight have an easier time conceiving. Try to get yourself into the 20-30 BMI range before you start trying. 

Stock your fridge with healthy foods– Stock your fridge with fruits and veggies along with healthy grains and dairy. Try other calcium rich foods like yogurts or orange juice.  Avoid too much fish that contain mercury because this can harm your babies growth and brain development.

Create and follow an exercise program– if you already have one great, if not now is a great time to start slowly.  Walk for 20 minutes around the neighborhood, do a low impact fitness DVD and then work your way up. 

See your dentist– Increased progesterone and estrogen levels can cause the gums to react differently to the bacteria in plaque, resulting in swollen, bleeding, tender gums.  If you already take good care of your dental health you significantly cut down on your chances of having one of these problems but get your teeth cleaned regardless every 6 months.

Get in touch with your medical roots– You should know your families medical history.  It is really important to know if anyone has a history of the following diseases: genetic or chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, or bleeding disorders. You’ll also want to find out if any relatives have mental retardation or other developmental delays or were born with an anatomical birth defect, like a cardiac or neural-tube defect 

Schedule a preconception visit– Schedule an appointment with your doctor.  He or she will discuss all you should know or think about before you get pregnant.  This is a great time to ask questions that you might have. 

Figure out when you ovulate– You could just have fun in trying or get down to the nitty gritty and figure out exactly when you will ovulate. has an ovulation calendar and there are even apps available for the iPad/iPhones that are quite accurate.

Call your health insurance company– Make sure you have the right coverage for pregnancy, doctor visits, delivery and follow-ups.  It might be 9 months before you have to think about this, but the cost of a C-Section can be more than $11k.  if you don’t have the right coverage now is the time to call your insurance provider and make all changes.  Speak to your doctor to see what you should have specifically.

Make an appointment with a financial adviser– Before you go all gaga-googoo over baby clothes, think about investing $50-$100 a month for your babies future.  Babies are expensive!

Get in touch with your mental health– Depression can have a big effect on women trying to conceive.  Speak to a mental health professional, if clinical depression is an issue, taking care of a baby no less yourself is not an option.  This is something that should be taken care of immediately.  If medication is an option, it must be one that is safe while pregnant or trying to conceive. 

Avoid infections– Avoid certain foods that can cause infections (unpasteurized cheese, packaged deli meat, undercooked poultry), this can cause listeriosis which can cause miscarriage or still birth.  Wash your hands!!!

Eliminate environmental dangers– Certain cleaning products, pesticides, solvents, and lead in drinking water from old pipes can be dangerous for a developing baby. Switch to organic to eliminate harmful chemicals- you should do this regardless!

Think your decision through– Make sure you are ready for this lifetime commitment.  Make sure your partner is also.  Are you really ready to give up your freedom and naptime??

Tell a friend– Sharing this exciting news, confiding in someone other than your partner can ease your nerves and is great to have a support system.

Buy something sexy– No explanation needed!

Toss your birth control– Cancel that auto refill at your pharmacy.  Just know that your body may take some time to regulate, others it can be really quick! 

Take a (safe) ride on the wild side– Plan that trip of a lifetime, be careless and carefree in a safe way.  This is your time, make it shine!

-Jessica Brown

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