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Your Choice: Choose to be Healthy

Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Lifestyle affects our health. Good health, for both men and women, contributes to good pregnancy outcomes. These tips will increase your likelihood of good health whether or not you’re planning a pregnancy.

  • Be tobacco-free. Stop smoking before you stop using birth control. Smoking during pregnancy increases risks of a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death.
  • Do not drink alcohol if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant. Alcohol can harm an unborn baby even before a woman knows she’s pregnant.
  • Become active for at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week.
  • Get tested for HIV and other STDs. STDs pose special risks for pregnant women and their babies.
  • Stop using all street drugs before you stop using birth control. When pregnant, anything you eat, drink or smoke affects you and your baby.

Make Healthy Food Choices

Good nutrition paves the way for good health. These steps can get you started on the right path whether or not you're planning a pregnancy.

  • Healthy food choices are important before and during pregnancy. It’s important to learn and practice good eating habits during this time, to provide not only for your needs, but also for a baby’s needs (in case you get pregnant), and also to prevent possible harm to an unborn baby.
  • Coffee, tea, sodas, and colas are common sources of caffeine. These drinks are low in nutrients and often replace healthier choices such as milk and fruit juice. High caffeine intake may delay conception. It’s wise to limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg. a day during pregnancy (about 12 ounces of coffee or other caffeinated drinks a day).
  • All women who could become pregnant, including those who take birth control pills, should be sure to choose a variety of foods and take a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid every day. If you get pregnant, folic acid helps to keep your baby from having birth defects of the brain and spine.
  • An unplanned weight loss or weight gain of more than 10% in 6 months may be a sign of a health problem (around 15 to 20 pounds for a woman who weighs 150 pounds). Be sure to share these weight changes with your health care provider.
  • Discuss any supplements or herbs that you take with your health care provider. High amounts of Vitamins A and D, if taken while pregnant, could cause birth defects and severe cognitive or intellectual disabilities in infants. Some herbs can also be harmful.
  • Eating fish has many health benefits, but women who may become pregnant or are pregnant, should avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. The high levels of mercury in these fish can harm an unborn baby or young child.

Learn more about these and other important health tips.