Before Pregnancy (Preconception)

Whether you are planning on getting pregnant or not, taking good care of yourself is important for you and your future children. Begin healthy habits now before pregnancy occurs and start a life of good health and wellness for you and your family.

10 Steps You Can Take to Prepare for a Healthy Life Before You Become Pregnant


1) Have a Reproductive Life Plan: Start thinking of how you feel about having children and share this plan with your partner.

Do you want to have children?
How old do you want to be when you have your first or next child?
How many kids do you want? How much time do you want in between pregnancies?
What would you do if you got pregnant right now?
How would having a child right now change your life goals and plans?
If you don't want kids right now, what are you doing to prevent a pregnancy?

Call or visit your healthcare provider for Family Planning options.

For more information and free or low-cost services, call Planned Parenthood to set up an appointment today: 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) or visit Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York, Inc.
2) Attend a pre-pregnancy doctor’s appointment: Let your healthcare provider know that you are planning on getting pregnant in the future. They will help evaluate your health and identify health and lifestyle risks that could affect you or your baby. At your pre-pregnancy visit, your provider should:

- Perform a physical exam

- Schedule Health Screenings (Pap smear, urine analysis, and blood tests for blood type, Rh factor, Diabetes,    Hypertension, STDs/STIs, etc)

- Review existing health conditions and medications you are currently taking; health conditions should be under control before pregnancy occurs. Some conditions that need to be addressed include:

> Diabetes

> Hypothyroidism


Hepatitis B


> Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

> Blood Diseases

> Eating Disorders

For more information on recommended tests before pregnancy visit Lab Tests Online click here.

Some medications, including prescription medications, over the counter medications and even herbal supplements, may not be safe to take during pregnancy. Because dangerous drugs and medications may cause damage to your baby during the first few weeks of pregnancy, your physician may suggest that you stop taking some medications before you become pregnant.

A few medications that are known to be dangerous to a pregnant woman or her baby include:

- Epilepsy Medicine

- Blood Thinners

- Accutane

For more information on Medications and Pregnancy, visit the following sites: Pregnancy and Medications
March of Dimes Health Education Center: Drugs and Herbs

Review family history/genetics- some birth defects and diseases are hereditary; this means there may be an increased risk that they will be passed on to your baby. Your physician will review you and your partner's family history and determine if you need to see a genetic counselor for more tests.

For more information on Genetics and Pregnancy, visit the following sites:
Ferre Institute
Lab Tests Online (Reviews Genetic tests a couple may consider before pregnancy)
Review immunizations and update if needed- some diseases are very dangerous to you and your baby during pregnancy, so your doctor will make sure all of your immunizations are current. For more information on immunizations and to view an updated New York State Immunization Schedule, visit click here.
Review lifestyle, behaviors, and social support- your doctor will ask you about your lifestyle and behaviors and possibly refer you to other services. They will ask you about:

- Folic Acid

- Healthy Eating and Healthy Weight

- Physical Activity and Stress

- Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Use

- Avoiding Infections

- Safe and Supportive Environment (home and work)

- Over-the-counter medications

- Prior Pregnancy loss

- Mental Illness

3) Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of Folic Acid every day: Every woman, regardless if she is planning to get pregnant, should take a multi-vitamin with 400mcg of Folic Acid every day. Folic acid is found naturally in some foods, such as leafy green vegetables, beans, and orange juice, and is fortified in some breads and cereals; however, taking a vitamin with 400mcg of Folic Acid is the easiest way to be sure you are getting the 100% recommended amount. Folic Acid helps your body make new cells, so even if you are not planning on getting pregnant right now, taking Folic Acid every day helps you stay healthy. If you are planning on getting pregnant, taking Folic Acid before and during pregnancy can help your baby's brain and spinal cord develop properly and reduce the risk for neural tube defects (for example, Spina Bifida or Anencephaly).
For more information about the benefits of Folic Acid and where to find it visit:
National Council on Folic Acid
Spina Bifida Association

4) Healthy Eating and Healthy Weight: Now, before pregnancy, is the time to start eating a nutritious diet and managing your weight. Getting in the habit of eating healthy now, will make it easier for you to be sure you are getting the proper nutrition for you and your baby when you do become pregnant. If you are considering getting pregnant soon, there are some foods you should try to cut back on or avoid altogether.

While you are pregnant, is not the time to try to lose weight, so managing your weight before pregnancy is best for you and your baby. It is recommended that some women try to lose or gain weight before they become pregnant, so talk to your physician before you begin a weight-loss (gain) program.

For local help with Nutrition and Weight, please visit the Nutrition section of our Directory of Services.
For more information visit:
American Heart Association: Healthy Lifestyle

5) Regular Physical Activity and Stress Reduction: regular physical activity, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most or all days, can help reduce stress and get you in shape. Exercising before and during pregnancy can help ease the discomforts of pregnancy and labor, help you recover faster after delivery and overall, help you feel better. Stress reduction before and during pregnancy is good for you and your baby. Try stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing exercise and meditation or physical activity, such as yoga, walking or swimming to help prepare your body for pregnancy and for life. Remember, talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a physical activity program.

For more physical activity information and activities for you and your family, visit the following sites:
For more information visit: 
American Heart Association: Healthy Lifestyle
6) Stop using Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs
Alcohol use: Drinking alcohol can make it more difficult for you to become pregnant. There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy; therefore, if you're trying to get pregnant, zero alcohol is best. Drinking alcohol before and during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), which may include physical and mental birth defects for your baby. For more FASD information visit the "During Pregnancy" section of this website and read more about FASD.
For local alcohol and drug information, prevention and treatment services, please visit the Substance Abuse section of our Directory of Services.
Tobacco use: Smoking can make it more difficult for you to become pregnant. Smoking before and during pregnancy can increase your risk of having a miscarriage. Smoking before and during pregnancy can increase the risk that your baby will be born premature (too early), have a low birth weight and have an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). So, the best time to stop smoking is right now, before you become pregnant.
For local information and resources to help you quit smoking contact:
T-PACC (Tobacco Prevention and Awareness Cessation Coalition)
or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487)
Drug Use- drug use before and during pregnancy can increase the risk for miscarriage, a drug-addicted baby, a smaller baby and a child with learning and behavioral problems later in life.
7) Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence: Violence can lead to injury or death to a woman at any stage of life, including during pregnancy. So, having a supportive and safe environment is important to consider before pregnancy occurs.

For the National Domestic Violence Hotline, click here or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)



8) Avoid Hazards and Infections: Before you become pregnant get tested for and treat someinfections. Continue to avoid exposure to new infections and hazards.

Infections: Coming in contact with people who are sick, handling cat litter and eating undercooked or raw meat are a few of the things you should avoid if you are trying to get pregnant.

For a list of ways you can prevent infections visit CDC website (Center for Disease Control)
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can be dangerous to you and your unborn baby. At your pre-pregnancy visit have your healthcare provider test you for STIs and HIV.

For more information and screenings, Visit your regular healthcare provider or these local services:

Jefferson County Public Health Service, call (315) 786-3770
Lewis County Public Health: Preventative Health Services
St. Lawrence County Public Health
Planned Parenthood of Northern New York or call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526)
CDC STDs and Pregnancy

Hazards in the Workplace and Home: It is possible for some chemicals to be inhaled, ingested from food or drink or absorbed through the skin. Protect yourself and your unborn baby by knowing which chemicals are dangerous and taking steps to avoid or remove them from your environment before you get pregnant. Some common chemicals women should avoid include: lead exposure, mercury, arsenic, pesticides, and some household cleaners.

For more information on chemicals to avoid in the home and workplace visit:
Environmental Risks and Pregnancy
Lead Exposure in New York State
What you Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish
Chemicals in Sportfish in New York State- Health Advisories

For more Health and Safety Prevention in New York State visit NY State Health Environmental website
NIOSH The Effects of Workplace Hazards on Female Reproductive Health

9) Oral Health: Good oral health before pregnancy is important because some oral infections can be dangerous to your baby. Visit your dentist before you become pregnant for any work that needs to be done, including x-rays.

To find a local Oral Health Care Provider, please visit the Dentists Section of our Directory of Services

10) Mental Health: having mental health conditions under control before you become pregnant is important. Notify your physician if you currently have or have a history of a mental health condition. This way, you can be given medications that are safe to take during pregnancy and your physician will know to monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy.

To find a local Mental Health Care Provider, please visit the Mental Health Services section of our Directory of Services (Coming Soon).

Find information and resources for any stage of pregnancy:

Before Pregnancy During Pregnancy
You and Your New Baby Just for Dads

NCPPC offers a variety of Prenatal and Perinatal Services throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. These initiatives include extensive outreach and education for the community and for health and human service providers.