P — Plan ahead.
- Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least one month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the brain and spine.
- See a health care professional regularly.A woman should start prenatal care as soon as she thinks she may be pregnant, and see her doctor regularly throughout her pregnancy.
A — Avoid harmful substances.
- Avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol in a woman’s bloodstream passes to the developing baby through the umbilical cord. There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes. The dangers of smoking during pregnancy include preterm birth, certain birth defects (cleft lip or cleft palate), and infant death. Even being around tobacco smoke puts you and your baby at risk.
- Avoid marijuana and other drugs. A woman who uses marijuana or other drugs during pregnancy risks having a baby with birth defects or other health problems. If you are using marijuana for medical reasons, speak with your doctor about alternative therapies.
C — Choose a healthy lifestyle.
- Keep diabetes under control. Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances of birth defects and other health problems.
- Maintain a healthy weight. A woman who is obese (a body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher) before pregnancy is at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy and has an increased risk of serious birth defects.
T — Talk with your doctor.
- Talk with your doctor about your medications. Certain medications can cause serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking or plan to take during your pregnancy.
- Talk to your doctor about vaccinations. Some vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine, are specifically recommended during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about which vaccinations are right for you.