Preconception Health

Preconception health – a woman’s health at the time when she is able to conceive a child – is becoming an increasingly important issue for national health care organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, that is because birth outcomes in the United States are worse than any other developed country despite advances in medicine and prenatal care in recent years.

Women need to know how important preconception health is, especially if they are not preventing a pregnancy. By the time a woman finds out she is pregnant, there are processes that have already taken place relative to the formation of the baby. It’s between two to four weeks that a significant portion of a baby’s organs have already started to develop.

According to research conducted by the CDC, babies whose parents took steps to get healthy before pregnancy, are less likely to be born early or have low birthweight. They are also more likely to be born without birth defects or other disabling conditions.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says women should prepare for pregnancy before becoming sexually active – or at least three months before becoming pregnant. Some actions such as smoking cessation, reaching a healthy weight or adjusting medicines should start even earlier. There are several important steps women can take to boost their preconception health:

  • Take folic acid every day to lower risk of birth defects
  • Stop alcohol and tobacco use
  • Address existing medical conditions
  • Talk to your doctor about medications, including dietary or herbal supplements, you are taking to make sure they are safe during pregnancy
  • Make sure vaccinations are up to date
  • Avoid contact with toxic substances that could cause infection at work and at home
  • Reach your optimal weight and eat a healthy diet

 To learn more about preconception health, visit

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