33 Things You Need To Do Before Trying To Have A Baby
This ultimate list of 33 things to do before having a baby will help you to be better prepared when you do your pre pregnancy planning before trying to conceive.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
You’re taking the big step into the next stage of your life, you want to become pregnant and have babies!! Or maybe you already have children but you are ready for more.
Children are such a blessing, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. You might be a planner naturally (isn’t that why you clicked on this article?). You want to know exactly what you should be doing before you get pregnant.
In this article you will definitely leave here today knowing everything you possibly need to do before you start trying to conceive. Although the list is long, it is thorough, and I’m positive you will feel confident in your pre-pregnancy planning journey.
Continue reading to find out the 33 most important things you need to do before you start trying to have a baby so that your pregnancy will start off on the right track and ultimately lead to a successful and healthy 9 month pregnancy.
Bonus: make sure you read all they way to the end for a bonus tip that I’m sure you husband will be happy I included! 😁
Pre Pregnancy Planning: Things To DO Before Trying To Have A Baby
One of the biggest life decisions you will ever make is whether or not you want to have children. Hopefully you and your partner discussed this in length when you were dating or at least during your engagement.
This is a big decision for the both of you in which you have to come to an agreement. If you came to the life changing agreement to have children together, then this blog post is for you.
It wasn’t easy for my husband and I to get pregnant with our first child. We thought when we made the decision to have children that we would get pregnant right away.
That wasn’t the case at all. It actually took us a year and a half before we gave birth to our first child in 2012. So during that year and a half, I spent a lot of time researching and educating myself on what is most important during my pre-pregnancy stage of life.
This list of 33 tips for pre-pregnancy planning will help you be completely prepared before you start trying to conceive.
I recommend before you actually become pregnant you might want to consider ditching some bad habits and become more familiar with your body.
The health of your body will ultimately affect the health of your baby. Strive for the best you can be before becoming pregnant so that your baby can be given the best life possible from day one.
Related: Positive Pregnancy Test-Now What?
Educating yourself is key! Spend time learning about pregnancy. This is a good place to start. So here we go.
33 things to do before trying to conceive
1. Take Prenatals And Folic Acid
Go ahead and start this right away. Taking prenatal vitamins is beneficial for you and your new baby to come. You don’t know when you are going to get pregnant so you might as well start ahead of time with your prenatals.
Doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins before conception so the fetus is nourished right from the start. Doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins with DHA and plenty of folic acid to prevent spinal defects and other disorders. Another vitamin to ask your doctor about is Vitamin D. Always consult your doctor before taking a new medication.
2. Drink Lots Of Water
It is very important to stay hydrated, but make sure you hydrate yourself with the good stuff- WATER. You are about to start drinking for two!!
So make sure you begin to increase your water intake to 10 8-oz glasses of water a day during pregnancy. But for now, while you are trying to conceive, aim for 8 8-oz glasses of water each day.
This article explains all the benefits from drinking water during pregnancy.
3. Stop Drinking Alcohol
This is a great time to stop any form of drinking that might be harmful to your health. Why not start now? No one knows when you might become pregnant, so it’s best to be prepared and get your body cleansed from the bad stuff.
We all know how harmful alcohol is to the fetus, but did you know that alcohol affects your fertility? It’s recommended to stop drinking alcohol right away when you decide you want to become pregnant.
The main reason is because you won’t find out your are pregnant for about 4-6 weeks and any consumption of alcohol, small or large amounts, can be very harmful to your baby at any stage of your pregnancy.
4. Reduce Caffeine Intake
Doctors also recommend for you to eliminate caffeine from your diet due to it affecting your fertility. Experts recommend having a daily intake of less than 200 milligrams of caffeine (but to eliminate it all together during pregnancy is the safest).
What does that equate to?
It’s about a 12 oz cup of regular coffee. It’s time to start weaning back and switching to decaf. Or just stick to water and you will be good to go!
5. Quit Smoking
Just like drinking alcohol, smoking is extremely harmful to your body and your new baby. Some of the major risks include low birth weight, miscarriage and premature birth. And a growing problem is SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), which is more likely to occur in homes of smokers.
I have never smoked, so it is difficult for me to understand why someone would want to expose their body to those cancerous/harmful chemicals.
Consider reading this link with tips and resources on how to stop smoking. You should speak to your doctor on which ways are most successful in quitting smoking. Try quitting now before getting pregnant so you can be in the clear way before you conceive.
6. Stop All Recreational Drugs and Check Your Prescription Drugs
There is no reason that anyone should be taking drugs to begin with because of the adverse health effects and negative consequences following recreational drug use. But if you happen to be taking any, it’s imperative that you stop before becoming pregnant due to the adverse effects it will have on a growing fetus.
If you are currently taking prescription medicine, call your pharmacist or doctor to see if you need to go off of the medications while trying to conceive. Some prescription drugs can have adverse effects on a pregnant woman and her baby.
Please don’t skip this step as it is very important for the health of your baby. And the same goes for over the counter meds; read the label to see if it’s contraindicated during pregnancy.
7. Start An Exercise Routine
Exercise, in my opinion, is the answer to everything. Exercise has so many benefits I can’t even list them all. With all of our medical knowledge in the world, I guarantee they have not yet found out all the positive benefits of exercise.
If you have never exercised before, click on this link for a jump start to an introductory total body workout program. It’s ok to start slow and simple if you have never exercised in your life. Don’t feel pressured to begin this crazy workout regimen where you have no idea what you are doing (there’s always the risk of getting an injury from pushing yourself too hard and too fast at the beginning).
I recommend 20 minutes of light exercise at least 3 times a week to get the benefits of a cardiovascular workout. As you become more familiar with exercising and your body adapts to your program, begin to progress into a more extensive exercise routine.
Find something you enjoy doing. There are so many types of exercise routines, exercise videos, apps etc. It might be a bit overwhelming.
Here’s a prenatal workout program that I highly recommend starting with if you want something that is safe and taught by a personal trainer who specilizes in pregnancy.
If you have any questions on where to begin and how to start an exercise program, write me and I can help guide you along the way.
8. Establish Healthy Eating Habits
Eat healthy, make healthy decisions and get in the total mindset of becoming healthy. Your health is far more important now because it’s not just about you, but it’s about your soon to be baby.
You can make a difference in your baby’s life by choosing to refrain from the junk food and nourish yourself with wholesome and nutritious foods. This will make it easier to gain healthy weight during your pregnancy. The normal amount of weight to gain while pregnant is 20-30 lbs.
9. Avoid Eating Fish High In Mercury
Fish is a fabulous source of omega-3 fatty acids, but unfortunately some fish are high in mercury. Mercury can be very harmful to your unborn baby. It’s even recommended during pregnancy that women should limit their consumption of all fish.
The types of fish high on the list to avoid eating during pregnancy are shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish, and eat no more than 6 ounces (one serving) of solid white canned tuna per week. Please refer to this complete list that breaks down the mercury levels in each type of fish.
This is another great article about what fish to avoid while pregnant by Baby Center.
10. Maintain A Healthy Weight and Track Your BMI
Having a healthy weight before conceiving is important for fertility, and it lowers your chances of having gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
Become familiar with your BMI (Body Mass Index) before conceiving and know what a healthy weight range is for you. Click here to find out your BMI. A great diet consists of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
11. Read “What To Expect Before You’re Expecting” By Heidi Murkoff
I love this book, What To Expect Before You’re Expecting (and all the “What To Expect” books). There is so much jam-packed information in this book.
You will get all your questions answered. You can trust the source. If you are motivated to be educated, this is the place to start. All your pre-conception questions can be found in this book.
12. Get A Physical
I think this point is extremely important. Getting a physical now is key to finding out any unknown medical problems you might have that you had no idea you had.
Wouldn’t you want to find out now, instead of when you are pregnant?
If there is any underlying medical diagnosis that you didn’t know you had, it is much easier to treat when you are not pregnant because a lot of medical treatments/medicines are contraindicated (not allowed) during pregnancy.
For instance, a lot of women find out they have thyroid levels that are either too high or too low. This can significantly affect your ability to conceive. If you had your physical in advance, you can be treated for your thyroid disorder, normalize your levels and have an easier time conceiving.
If you didn’t know you had a thyroid problem, you might have been trying to conceive for a year and maybe had difficulty not knowing it was from your thyroid not working properly.
Getting a physical soon after you have decided to become pregnant may improve your fertility thus helping you to conceive sooner by treating any underlying medical conditions.
13. Discuss Pre-Existing Conditions With Doctor At Your Preconception Visit
Schedule an appointment with your OBGYN and talk about your pre-existing conditions so that you can get that under control now before pregnancy. Do you have diabetes? Do you have anxiety?
Anything that you might be dealing with right now should be up for discussion so that you can have better control over your health before you add another human into the mix! Your body is your unborn baby’s house. Let’s get this house as strong and as healthy as possible before your baby decides to live in it!
This is also a good time to do some of the other things on this list, like checking your vaccines, your weight and STD history.
14. Genetic Screening
Are you interested in doing genetic screening before getting pregnant? Some women don’t care to do so, but others may think it’s really important. This is ultimately you and your partner’s decision.
Sit down and have a chat about what is right for you and your future together as you move further along this journey.
Since we are on the topic of talking with your partner. Here are some other really important topics that you and your partner will want to start talking about in advance…
15. Planning Out Money
Babies obviously will put a slight spike in your budget, so of course the wise thing to do is plan for that expected increase in expenses. Discuss with your partner your financial situation.
How are you going to pay for the hospital bills, how are you going to afford the baby diapers, where is the money going to come from for the extra supplies that are needed for taking care of the baby? Try not to be naive and assume that the money will just be available when you need it.
Plan your finances now ahead of time. I highly recommend checking out Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Univeristy for an extensive crash course into financial planning and his book The Total Money Makeover is by far the best financial book I have ever read.
16. Plan Your Career and Work Expectations
Along the lines of money comes the topic of your work and career path. Have a chat with your partner about the changes that might take place with work and hours spent at work when baby arrives.
Will someone stay home full time or will you be paying for chlidcare. Do you need to find a better paying job to supplement for the one income paycheck? This could take some time to figure out so it’s best that you start early planning your future career goals and how it mixes with mommy life.
17. Have ‘The Big Discussion’ With Your Partner
The big question….“How many kids do you want to have?” Yep, ask him now. Get it all out in the open now so that there are no surprises later on.
But just realize that this number could change, and that’s ok. A lot of decisions will change, but it’s good to start the discussion now before Baby arrives.
Because once Baby arrives, you will have plenty of other topics to talk about like which daycare are we going to use, do we want circumcision or not, what religion will we teach our child and will we be co-sleeping or not? The topics are endless, so get some other important questions out of the way now.
18. Plan Your Home
Usually after getting married you start planning on where you and your new husband are going to live, but when a big change like a new baby comes into your life, house planning is a must.
Maybe you live in a standard 1 bedroom apartment with your spouse.
Do you think you need to expand now before Baby comes or later when Baby is ready to move into his own room?
Are you looking for a 3 bedroom home or a 4 bedroom home because you want to have lots of kids?
What’s your budget, and where do you want to move?
So many questions and so many decisions that come along with becoming parents. Have these questions answered now so that you are not scrambling at the last minute to find a house when you are about to go into labor!
19. Plan For A New Car
Your husband is going to like this one! Is it time for an upgrade on your ride? If you are like me, it’s not a decision that I can make in a matter of an hour of browsing the car lot. It practically takes me weeks to figure out what make and model car I want to get, then there’s the negotiating and the car report checks. When you are pregnant, all you want to do is plan for Baby, not the car. If you think you need more space in the car, consider doing all the research now on which car you want for your growing family and when you become pregnant, plan to buy the car midway through your pregnancy.
20. Catch Up On Sleep
You really want to get as much shut eye as you possibly can before pregnancy hits. I’m not trying to scare you, but in all honesty, your sleep patterns will definitely be altered by the changes that go on in your body. Of course, once Baby arrives, you’ll be awake for most of the hours in the day taking care of your newborn. So enjoy getting good rest now in preparation for the changes that are about to come.
21. Have Health Insurance
Pretty simple, you need health insurance to have a baby. I think that’s a no-brainer. It’s expensive to be admitted to the hospital. It’s expensive to be seen every 1-2 months by your gynecologist for 9 months. It’s expensive to get a breast pump. It’s expensive to have an ultrasound. And there’s always the chance that you might need some extra procedures, tests, blood work, exams. You just don’t know, so insurance is important. Also, your baby is insured for the first 30 days after delivery through your insurance (this is standard for most insurances). So make sure you have health insurance throughout your entire pregnancy and even before becoming pregnant.
22. Get Life Insurance
Also, this is a great time to get term life insurance, which is a life insurance plan that is for a certain term (or length of time).
Life insurance is simply insurance for your family or loved ones if you were to die. It’s money that is given to your family to help with the income loss from your death. The insurance pays out an amount of money (your choice) for a certain length of time (your choice).
This money should resemble about 10-20 years of your annual income. For more information on term life insurance, I recommend you read Dave Ramsey’s website where he discusses term life insurance in detail and offers a service to give you a quote.
23. Go To The Dentist
Having a dental exam is really important prior to pregnancy. It’s a great time to get x-rays done before becoming pregnant, because it’s not recommended to have any radiation exposure through x-rays during pregnancy.
If you were to have a cavity, it’s better to find out before you conceive rather than afterwards. It’s recommended to have dental cleanings every 6 months, so that means you’ll definitely be having a dental appointment during your pregnancy. I would hate for you to have complications with your teeth while pregnant.
Check out Aspen Dental where they offer free exams and x-rays for new patients! They are nation wide.
Also, did you know that gum disease, which is more common during pregnancy, can increase your chance of early labor? Start flossing and improve your dental hygiene now before getting pregnant!
24. Mental Health Screen
Some experts recommend that you have a mental health screen prior to conceiving because women who have mental health problems, such as depression, prior to conception are more likely to have difficulty conceiving (2 times more likely to be exact).
Stress can negatively affect conception, and someone who has difficulty taking care of their own mental health is more likely to have difficulty taking care of a baby as well.
Also treating any mental health disorders now will only help with postpartum recovery. There is always the risk of developing postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is very common after pregnancy. Research shows that 1 in every 7 moms will experience postpartum depression each year – that’s more than 513,000.
25. Figure Out Your Stress Remedy
Pregnancy and Postpartum recovery can become stressful for some women as I mentioned earlier.
For preventative measures, go ahead and figure out what your best stress remedy is. Being able to manage your stress now will only make it easier when you are hit with a stressful situation when Baby arrives. Some ideas for stress remedies might be:
- Listening to worship music
- Watching nature
- Having coffee with a girlfriend
26. Preventing and Avoiding Infections
The most obvious infection and disease that is preventable is the flu. If it’s flu season, get your flu shot to decrease your risk of contracting it.
Two other important infections to avoid contracting
1. Listeriosis– this is a food-borne illness that can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. You can get this from consuming foods with salmonella. It’s commonly found in deli-meat, unpasteurized foods, soft cheeses and juices (like farmers market apple cider).
2. ToxoplasmosisIt – this can be contracted by cleaning out the little box your cat uses. Have your spouse, a neighbor or a friend do it for you or you may want to wear gloves. It can also be contracted from playing in a sandbox or digging in the garden.
27. Make Lifestyle Changes To Avoid Environmental Risks
Do you use a lot of harsh chemicals to clean? Maybe your husband has been using pesticides in the garden. And how about your drinking water? Do you know if it contains high amounts of lead?
These are all important things to check out before getting pregnant. Cleaning products are the most obvious ones that women are exposed to. Try switching it up to a chemical free cleaning product like Norwex, which is an enivornmentally friendly, chemical free towel product that only requires water to clean and sanitize your entire home.
28. Stop Your Form Of Birth Control
If you are using a form of birth control, all you need to do is STOP. It’s easy as that! There is no weaning or need to plan. It doesn’t have to fall on a certain day of your cycle. It’s rather simple. All you have to do is stop using it.
29. Figure Out When You Ovulate
Now that you stopped using birth control, start tracking your cycle and figure out when you ovulate. Get a blank calendar or planner to keep track of your cycle, your symptoms, your mucus discharge and any other bodily changes that take place over the course of your 28-32 day cycle (your cycle may be shorter or longer than this, every woman is different).
When you figure out when you are ovulating, then you’ll know when the best time to conceive will be and your changes of becoming pregnant are higher.
Best tips for tracking ovulation (click links below to learn more):
30. Get Your Mom’s Past Medical History
Have a long discussion with your mom over a cup of decaf coffee and get to know her a bit more. Find out what her pregnancy was like when she had you (and your siblings).
Did she have any complications or was it a smooth 9 month ride for her? How was her childbirth experience.
Ask her all the nitty gritty details so that you can have more awareness of what to expect.
And it’s always good to know if there are any past medical history red flags that could be genetic. Oh, and don’t forget to ask her how much you weighed as a newborn baby!
31. Get A Sexual Health Check-UP
I know this can be a hard topic for some, or you might be thinking, “I’m fine, I don’t need to worry about that.”
But the truth of the matter is, most women do need to be concerned about STD’s. Even if you are not showing signs or symptoms, please take the time to get tested for STD’s before getting pregnant.
You don’t want to put your future baby at risk. Have a clear conscious and get tested.
32. Get a Cervical Screen
Along the same lines, get a cervical screen as well. Testing for STD’s and a cervical screen are two completely different things.
Also, most women think a cervical screen is the same as a pap, but it’s not. Cervical screens are done less frequently and are actually a more accurate screen than the pap.
The screen is known for finding HPV. It’s ultimately the best way to test for cervical cancer.
33. Make Sure You Have The MMR Vaccine
This vaccine is highly recommended before getting pregnant because Rubella, although rare, can be extremely dangerous to a baby’s development while the mom is pregnant with the baby. Rubella is just ⅓ of the vaccine. MMR stands for Measles, Mumps, Rubella.
Take the extra step by checking your childhood vaccine records to see if you were given this vaccine (typically before the age of 6 years old). You want to do everything you possibly can to prevent the possibility of your baby contracting this horrible virus.
Bonus Tip: Plan A Baby-Moon!
Of all the things on this list, the most important thing to do is to go on a Baby-Moon!!!
Surprise you husband one day and tell him you want to talk to him about one last important thing before you start trying to have babies. Surprise him by telling him you want to plan your Baby-Moon! You’ll light up his eyes instantly!
Plan a fun get-a-way to a romantic destination for just the two of you. Don’t invite the in-laws or your best friends from college. This is just a trip for you and your partner to spend some good quality time together before life gets turned upside down (in a good way). Not to mention your baby-moon would be a great time to catch up on some sleep! 😉
Pre Pregnancy Planning Checklist – Free Printable
This list of 33 things to do before conceiving might seem overwhelmingly long. Don’t worry, I have a Free Printable Checklist for you so you can keep track of what you need to do before conception time comes!
Just go through the list at your own pace and relax!! My number one tip for getting pregnant is to relax and reduce your stress. Only God knows when you will become pregnant, so trust in His timing because His timing is perfect.
I want to finish with a prayer specifically for you.
“I pray that you will become fertile during the time that you are meant to become a mother. I pray that you will be blessed with a tiny life inside of you and that your womb will be a safe place for your baby to grow and live for the entire 9 months of your pregnancy. And I pray for peace, love and excitement over the next year as you plan your pregnancy, become pregnant and give birth to your precious baby. In Jesus name, Amen.”
I would love to hear from you…let me know which item on this list was the most beneficial tip for you. Do you need more specific help in any of these areas? If so, comment below and I will get back to you shortly with my answer!
And here is another helpful resource for you for when you do become pregnant: Positive Pregnancy Test – Now What? This post inlcudes an extensive list of all the important things you should be doing once you find out you’re pregnant.
Dr. Jena Bradley, DPT
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
About Dr. Jena Bradley
Jena is a mom of 4 darling little girls, a physical therapist and founder of Live Core Strong, a blog focusing on motivating moms to live a life that incorporates fitness and fun throughout their motherhood journey. She aims to be the friend you always wanted to have who could guide you through the “fog” when faced with an “I don’t know what to do” mommy moment. At the most inconvenient time of her life, she embarked on a journey of sharing her story and expertise to inspire the next generation of healthy moms. You can learn more about Jena by visitng her ABOUT page.