The decision to add a "little sunshine" to your life can be most wonderful. It's a time of excitement, even a little apprehension. So it's smart to plan ahead and make healthy choices.

Pregnant for at least 12 months

In addition to the nine months of actual pregnancy, it's helpful to think of yourself as "pregnant" three months before you start trying to conceive. That's because your health, even your partner's health, before conception will affect your baby. Many of a baby's organs (heart, brain, spinal cord, liver and kidneys) form in the first four weeks.

Time to detox

Many birth defects occur early in pregnancy - before you know you're pregnant. That's why leading a healthy lifestyle in general sets a solid foundation for yourself and is especially valuable if you should become pregnant. Below are tips for achieving good health.

  • Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid and 30 milligrams (mg) of iron every day.
  • Eat healthy - whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and proper portion sizes.
  • Limit caffeine to 200 mg per day - about one 12-ounce size cup of coffee.
  • Exercise at least 2 hours and 30 minutes per week. Try to get your weight within 15 pounds of your goal or ideal weight before pregnancy.
  • Stop smoking and/or avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Stop drinking alcohol.
  • Don't use illegal drugs.
  • Be sure you're up-to-date on all your vaccines.
  • Avoid toxic chemicals such as paint, cleaning solvents and insecticides.
  • Minimize stress.

The pre-pregnancy checkup

Want even more tips and strategies to achieve optimal health? As soon as you learn the happy news that you're expecting, know that our medical professionals are here to help you every step of the way. From precise nutritional guidelines, prenatal exams and classes, you'll receive compassionate, memorable care.

Call Riverside Community Hospital at (951) 788-3463 to find a doctor or speak to a nurse.