Preparing the body for baby

first_imgA healthy lifestyle during pregnancy is important, and, as local obstetricians point out, the steps women take before conceiving can have a big impact on the pregnancy, and the health of mom and baby.“Pregnancy is an incredible stress on your body,” said Dr. Joy Pretcher, obstetrician and gynecologist at Kaiser Permanente Salmon Creek Medical Office. “If you’re already not handling your physiology well, pregnancy is going to put a further strain on that.”A planned pregnancy and a healthy mother-to-be can help women to enjoy their pregnancy more and reduce the risk of serious complications and birth defects.“You really, really want to optimize their health before conceiving,” Pretcher said. “Pregnancy is a marathon for your body.”Folic acidOne of the most important things a woman can do before getting pregnant is to begin taking prenatal vitamins, which contain folic acid.“That folic acid is really essential to helping the spinal cord form,” Pretcher said.The folic acid helps to prevent two serious birth defects of the brain and spine — spina bifida and anencephaly — that typically occur early in pregnancy (three to four weeks after conception) and before most women even know they’re pregnant.last_img