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1. Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins. You should take prenatal vitamins as soon as you start trying to conceive, but if this pregnancy was a surprise, start taking your prenatals asap. Prenatals are full of vitamins and minerals, but perhaps the most important is folic acid and iron. Folic acid significantly reduces the risk of neural tube (what becomes the brain and spine) defects. These neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, develop in the first month of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant, which is why is is so important to start taking prenatals immediately. Iron helps the blood carry oxygen, prevents anemia and reduces the risk of pre-term and low birth weight babies.
3. Drop the Bad Habits. Smoking and drinking are pregnancy no-nos, although some may consider one occasional drink okay. Excessive drinking could lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. Smoking during pregnancy lowers the amount of oxygen that both you and baby get, increases baby's heart rate, increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, respiratory problems, birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. It's also a good idea to pick up some good habits and exercise regularly. Check out these 4 Exercises for a Healthy Pregnancy.
4. Find Prenatal Care. When choosing a physician for prenatal care, you will have to decide to see an obstetrician, certified midwife, or even a practice that has both available. Where you want to give birth will play a roll in this decision, whether you want a home birth, birthing center or hospital birth. You may also choose to hire a doula, which is a person who will provide physical and emotional support through pregnancy, labor and delivery. Typically your first prenatal checkup will be scheduled at or around 8 weeks.
Check out our Ultimate Pregnancy To-Do List by month.