Your health (men and women) during the years you are able to have a baby is called preconception health. Whether or not you plan to have a baby one day, preconception health is about taking charge of your health, choosing healthy habits and feeling good about your life. If you aren’t planning a pregnancy, keep in mind that no one expects an unplanned pregnancy but it does happen.
Improving health before having a baby is important for both women and men. You plan for school, work, holidays, and special events. What about a baby? Preconception health gives babies the best chance for a healthy start in life. Healthy parents, healthy babies, healthy families!
Looking at your health is important to:
- Identify areas in your life that may be a risk for your health now and in the future
- Identify areas in your life that could affect your ability to have children
- Identify areas in your life that could affect the health of a future baby
- Provide an opportunity to get information, advice, and support to improve your health
The most common preconception health changes men and women make are:
- Improving eating habits
- Quitting smoking
- Quitting or cutting down on alcohol use
- Increasing physical activity
Are there other healthy changes you could make to improve your overall health? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a family history of health problems that you need to know about? Are there ways to avoid or reduce your chances of developing those health problems?
- Do you see your health care provider for regular checkups? Have you been screened for sexually transmitted infections? Are you on medications that may affect your ability to have a child?
- How are your teeth and gums? Do you brush your teeth, floss each day, and visit a dentist regularly? Oral health can affect a pregnancy.
- Are your immunizations up-to-date?
- Are you using street drugs or medications that aren’t prescribed for you?
- What is the level of stress in your life? Some stress is normal but it is important to talk to someone if you feel you have too much stress. Learn positive ways to manage your stress.
- Do you use plastics that are safe for cooking, reheating, and storing food? Are you exposed to toxic chemicals in your home or workplace?
- Are you getting enough sleep? Sleep plays a critical role in how your body functions.
- How is your mental health? Is there a history of mental health concerns in your family? Are there things you can do to improve your mental health?
- Are you in a healthy relationship? Is it positive and respectful? Physical, sexual, or emotional hurt is dangerous to your health.
Be gentle with yourself. Healthy change takes time but will benefit you now and in the future. If there is a baby in your future, your baby will thank you too.
Last updated: March 2019