What to know BEFORE you get pregnant

This isn’t your grandmother’s “what to expect when you’re expecting.” We consulted Wendy Martinez, MD, of Advocare The Women’s Group OB/GYN to get tips on how to prepare for pregnancy BEFORE you’re pregnant. 

Check your meds

Wendy Martinez, MD, FACOG, NCMP

Whether you’re taking blood pressure meds or anti-depressants, Dr. Martinez urges anyone who wants to get pregnant to check in with their doctor before getting pregnant. “There are certain medications that are good when you’re not pregnant, but not so good when you are,” she says. “We like to know that ahead of time, because the medications you switch to might not be as effective and we want to find the right one before you get pregnant.” 

Martinez suggests starting this process around 3 months before you start trying to get pregnant. But don’t stress, this is a very normal thing and you shouldn’t have trouble finding a pregnancy-friendly substitute for your medications. “Most people know the meds that work, and if they don’t, they call us,” she says. 

Visit the dentist

The human body goes through so many changes when you get pregnant (you probably already knew that) – but there are some that not everyone knows about. Like potential increased bleeding in your gums. So Dr. Martinez always recommends fitting in a dentist visit before getting pregnant. 

“When you’re pregnant and get a teeth cleaning, you might bleed more,” she says. “And you also want to try to get any dental work done before baby because you’ll react to anesthesia differently, as well as x-rays, just to be totally safe.”  

Another stop you’ll want to make before, and potentially during, your pregnancy is the optometrist – because, heads up, your eyes could change. “They don’t change permanently, but you may need some adjustments to your prescription during the pregnancy,” Dr. Martinez says.   

Start cutting back now

You know what’s really hard? Going from multiple cups of coffee a day to practically zero the next. So get a bit of a head start on cutting back on those things that are bad for baby: smoking, alcohol, caffeine, sugar. 

“When you stop caffeine, you’re dealing with headaches from withdrawal,”Dr. Martinez says. “So try now to cut back, have decaf for some of your cups, and then keep bringing it down so that by the time we get to the pregnancy, it’s not such a big deal.” 

Dr. Martinez also recommends looking at how much sugar you’re drinking in your beverages and cutting back on that as well. Try replacing those with water whenever possible. “During pregnancy, we like you to have about 8 to 10 glasses of water a day,” she adds. 

Wendy Martinez, MD, FACOG, NCMP Paul Jasionowski APN-C Jennifer Travis MSN, APN-C, CNM Shira Rosenbaum Roller MSN, CNM Renata Siruckova MSN, WHNP-BC, CNM MaryEllen Levine, DNP, WHNP-BC, CNM

Get in shape

It’s gonna be a long 9 months, says Dr. Martinez. So you want to give yourself every advantage heading into pregnancy – and that means getting in the best shape you can. Not only will it help you feel good through the pregnancy, but it can also keep away certain health conditions. 

“The average woman gains 25 to 30 pounds during pregnancy,” she says. “We don’t like any more than that. But a lot of times, pregnancy weight gain puts the woman into the obesity range, and that can trigger certain conditions like preeclampsia and diabetes, which will also affect the baby.”  

Visit your OB/GYN

Sure, you have your annual appointment, but you may decide to get pregnant after that appointment, or there just isn’t enough time to cover all your pregnancy questions on top of your general health. Dr. Martinez always recommends patients schedule an appointment to talk everything baby – and only baby. 

“I’ll have patients come in with their partner for a prenatal counseling session,” she says. “We’ll have a discussion, go over some of the things I’ve mentioned here, and we’ll go over family history, any birth defects, any miscarriages, any chromosomal abnormalities and maybe do some testing on both of them.” 

It’s also a time to ask any questions. And we’ve all been there, you drive away from your appointment and think, “oh I completely forgot to ask about this,” so Martinez urges her patients to write down every question they think of, and to take notes during the appointment. 

April 2024
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