I’m pregnant. What should I do or avoid for a healthy baby?

Some things you can do to take care of yourself and the precious life growing inside you include:

  • Take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
  • Get early and regular prenatal care. Whether this is your first pregnancy or third, health care is extremely important. Your doctor will check to make sure you and the baby are healthy at each visit. If there are any problems, early action will help you and the baby.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, and calcium – rich foods. Choose foods low in saturated fat.
  • Unless your doctor tells you not to, try to be active for 30 minutes, most days of the week. If you don’t have much time, get your exercise in 10 minute segments, three times a day.
  • If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs, STOP! These can cause long-term harm to your baby. Ask your doctor for help.
  • Ask your doctor before taking any medicine. Some are not safe during pregnancy. Remember that even over-the-counter medicines and herbal products may cause side effects or other problems. So ask your doctor before taking these products too.
  • Avoid hot tubs, saunas, and x-rays.
  • If you have a cat, ask your doctor about toxoplasmosis. This infection is caused by a parasite sometimes found in cat feces. When left untreated toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects. Your doctor may suggest avoiding cat litter and working in garden areas used by cats.
  • Don’t eat uncooked or undercooked meats or fish.
  • Stay away from chemicals like insecticides, solvents (like some cleaners or paint thinners), lead, and mercury. Not all products have pregnancy warnings on their labels. If you’re unsure if a product is safe, ask your doctor before using it.
  • Avoid or control caffeine in your diet. Pregnant women should have no more than two servings of caffeine per day. Remember that teas, sodas, and chocolate may contain caffeine.
  • Stay active. Most women continue working through pregnancy. Few jobs are unsafe for pregnant women. But if you’re worried about the safety of your job, talk with your doctor.
  • Get informed. Read books, watch videos, go to a childbirth class, and talk with experienced moms.
  • Ask your doctor about childbirth education classes for you and your partner. Classes can help you prepare for the birth of your baby.