Are you planning on getting pregnant? Are you hoping to increase the odds of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy? Then check out the handy checklist for pre-conception planning below. It will help you feel more in control as you work on preparing your body and your mind for the incredible journey of motherhood that’s to come.

Start Eating Better, and Take a Folic Acid Supplement

One of the first things that you can do to prepare for pregnancy, and to ensure your pregnancy will be a healthy one after you have conceived, is switch to a healthier diet.

This includes eating a variety of nutritious, natural foods like veggies, fruits, and whole grains. It’s also a great idea to reduce your intake of unhealthy fats and fried food. When it comes to eating meat, choosing lean cuts is recommended, and it’s also best to avoid large fish that are known to have higher levels of mercury.

Beyond eating right, your checklist for pre-conception planning should also include staying hydrated. This is imperative before you get pregnant and while you are pregnant. Plus, you should aim to reduce, or even eliminate, your intake of caffeinated beverages like soda, tea, and coffee, according to Lane Fertility Institute.

On top of all of that, taking a high-quality folic acid supplement every day is also important, as it can help reduce your risk of birth defects. A good place to start is 0.8 mg, but you can talk to your doctor if you are unsure of how much you should be taking.

Get Ready for Pregnancy Weight Gain

Your checklist for pre-conception planning should also include preparing for how much weight you will gain while you are pregnant.

Start by evaluating if you’re underweight, at a healthy weight, or overweight. If you’re not at a healthy weight, whether you’re overweight or underweight, it’s smart to take steps towards reaching a weight that is considered healthy for your body type before you try to conceive.

Why is this important? Well, if you’re underweight, you might end up having a more difficult time conceiving, and you might also be at a greater risk of delivering a smaller baby. On the other hand, if you’re overweight, you might develop diabetes or hypertension while pregnant, and the risk of having a miscarriage can also be higher when your BMI (body mass index) is higher than it should be. Keep in mind that a normal BMI is 20-24.

Establishing an exercise routine at this time, if you aren’t already following one, is a great way to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy too, especially if you need to lose weight, so definitely add physical activity to your checklist for pre-conception planning. A moderate, but regular, exercise routine is the goal. Just start slowly and then gradually work your way towards new challenges so that you can avoid hurting yourself. Aim to get about 30 minutes of exercise several times a week, even while you are pregnant.

Receive Treatment for Medical Conditions

Another step on your checklist for pre-conception planning should be to talk to your doctor about your overall health.

If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition that has the potential to adversely affect your ability to have a healthy pregnancy (such as hypertension, depression, seizure disorders, or diabetes), or if you are taking a prescription medication that may adversely affect your baby, talk to your doctor about the fact that you want to conceive. He or she will be able to guide you towards having a successful pregnancy and can also discuss any risks that you should know about before you conceive.

Also, your checklist for pre-conception planning should include a discussion with your doctor regarding necessary vaccinations that can help prevent infections that could threaten your baby. Prior to getting pregnant, find out if you need to be vaccinated against Chickenpox and Rubella. Then, if you receive the vaccination, wait a month before you try to get pregnant.

Hopefully, this checklist for pre-conception planning has helped you better understand the steps that should be taken prior to getting pregnant, as well as while you are pregnant. Remember that leading a healthy lifestyle is key to protecting your unborn baby’s health, so avoid unhealthy foods, hazardous materials, and unhealthy habits like smoking. By taking the right precautions, you can rest assured that you’ll have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a perfect baby.