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Preparing for Pregnancy

At NYU Langone, our doctors help women prepare for pregnancy and delivery by recommending lifestyle changes prior to conception that can help both mother and baby during pregnancy and beyond. Our staff can also help you create a birth plan and answer any questions you may have about giving birth at NYU Langone.

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During prenatal counseling, your doctor asks about your family and personal health history to determine risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy. He or she takes note of your blood type and may check for diabetes, anemia, hepatitis BHIV, group B strep, chicken pox, or rubella antibodies. Your doctor may also recommend other steps.

Quit Smoking and Eliminate Alcohol

Smoking tobacco can cause birth defects, affect the baby’s growth, and increase the risk for preterm labor and placenta abruption, in which the placenta, which provides nutrients to the baby in the womb, separates from the uterus before the baby is born.

It's important that you quit smoking before becoming pregnant. Experts at NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can provide assistance with quitting.

Because alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been associated with birth defects, such as neurological issues, your doctor may suggest you avoid drinking alcoholic beverages throughout your pregnancy.

Reduce Caffeine Intake

Caffeine can increase your blood pressure and heart rate and lead to dehydration. For this reason, your doctor may ask you to reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet during pregnancy. Our doctors typically suggest limiting caffeine to 12 ounces of coffee, or less than 200 milligrams per day.

Take Prenatal Vitamins

Your doctor may recommend that you take a B vitamin called folic acid, which can reduce the risk of birth defects affecting the brain and spine when taken several months before conception and throughout pregnancy. Our doctors typically recommend taking 800 micrograms of folic acid per day.

Because the amount of iron in the body can be depleted during pregnancy, your doctor may suggest taking iron supplements.

Reduce Exposure to Environmental Toxins

It’s important to limit your exposure to environmental toxins when planning to become pregnant. This includes controlling your consumption of seafood.

Certain types of fish, including king mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish, are known to contain higher levels of mercury compared to other seafood. It is suggested that a woman avoid these types of fish and eat no more than six ounces of white albacore tuna per week during pregnancy.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight before pregnancy can help to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, in which hormones produced by the placenta decrease a pregnant woman’s sensitivity to insulin, raising blood glucose levels. This can increase the size of the baby, causing difficulties during delivery and increasing the need for a cesarean delivery.

The amount of weight your doctor recommends gaining during pregnancy depends on your prepregnancy weight and body mass index, a measurement of body fat based on your height and weight. The average healthy weight gain during pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds.

Test for Sexually Transmitted Infections

Your NYU Langone doctor may check your blood for sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV or syphilis, which can cause complications during a pregnancy. He or she may also test your blood for hepatitis B, an infectious disease that affects the liver. To detect other sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, the doctor swabs the cervix, and the collected cells are tested in a laboratory.

If a sexually transmitted infection is diagnosed prior to pregnancy, your doctor may recommend treatment before you become pregnant.

Manage Other Conditions

Your doctor discusses conditions that can affect a pregnancy, including diabetes, heart disease, kidney problemshigh blood pressure, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Your obstetrician works with other NYU Langone specialists to determine whether you are healthy enough and to optimize your health for pregnancy.

Your physician also reviews your medications. Some—such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which are used to manage high blood pressure—must be discontinued prior to pregnancy.

Your doctor may also ask for information about vaccinations. Certain vaccinations, such as those for measles, rubella, or chicken pox, are not administered during pregnancy.

Seek Treatment for Infertility

If you have been trying to conceive for six months to a year but haven’t achieved pregnancy, your doctor may refer you to the NYU Langone Fertility Center or NYU Langone Reproductive Specialists of New York. Our experts can perform tests and offer treatment for infertility. They can also manage infertility in men.

Our Research and Education in Pregnancy

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.