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Health before pregnancy
All women who are able to become pregnant should know about preconception health. This is a woman's health before she becomes pregnant. It means knowing how health conditions and risk factors could affect a woman or her unborn baby if she becomes pregnant. For example, some foods, habits, and medicines can harm your baby — even before you get pregnant. Some health problems, such as diabetes, also can affect pregnancy.
Another aspect of preconception health is using birth control if you are sexually active but do not want to become pregnant. Learn more about types of birth control and how well they work. Keep in mind that most forms for birth control do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Male condoms offer the best protection against STIs.
Every woman should be thinking about these and other health matters whether or not she is planning pregnancy. One reason is that about half of all pregnancies are not planned. Unplanned pregnancies are at greater risk of preterm birth and low-birth-weight babies. Another reason is that, despite important advances in medicine and prenatal care, about 1 in 8 babies is born too early. Researchers are trying to find out why and how to prevent preterm birth. But experts agree that women need to be healthier before becoming pregnant. By taking action on health issues and risks before pregnancy, you can prevent problems that might affect you or your baby later. Learn more about preconception health and why it's so important.
Read more from womenshealth.gov
Healthy Pregnancy — Womenshealth.gov has created this site for expectant mothers. It provides information on fertility and birth control, each trimester of pregnancy, preparing for a new baby, childbirth, postpartum care, and financial help.
Explore other publications and websites
Good Health Before Pregnancy: Preconception Care (Copyright © American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) — This publication discusses preconception care, which includes planning your pregnancy and talking to your doctor about your family history, medical history, past pregnancies, medications, and lifestyle.
Preconception Care — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosts this Internet site as their main portal to finding information on preconception care.
Preconception Care — This website offers multiple links to articles, fact sheets, and other tools on preconception care. It includes topics such as nutrition, concerns for specific conditions, and the latest research.
Preconception Health Care (Copyright © March of Dimes) — This website features multiple fact sheets on preconception care and the things you can do to prepare for pregnancy.
Connect with other organizations
American College of Nurse-Midwives
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
March of Dimes
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Content last updated May 18, 2010.
Resources last updated May 18, 2010.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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