U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Have a Healthy Pregnancy

Content last updated on:
October 28, 2014

The Basics

It’s important to take care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy. To keep you and your baby healthy:

  • See your doctor or midwife regularly.
  • Get important prenatal (“pree-NAY-tuhl”) tests.
  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Eat healthy foods and stay active.
  • Take steps to prevent infections.

To get more tips for a healthy pregnancy:

See your doctor or midwife regularly.
Plan on visiting your doctor or midwife at least every month for the first 7 months and more often during the last 2 months of your pregnancy.

A midwife is someone who is trained to provide prenatal care (health care during pregnancy) and help women during childbirth.

Know the benefits of prenatal care.
Women who get prenatal care from a doctor or midwife have healthier babies. They are also less likely to give birth prematurely (before the baby’s due date).

Doctors and midwives can find health problems sooner when they see pregnant women regularly. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others.

Make the most of each visit with the doctor or midwife.
Talk with your doctor or midwife about:

  • Questions about your pregnancy
  • How to have a healthy pregnancy
  • Your medical history, including any medicines you are taking, and your family’s health history
  • Anything that’s bothering or worrying you

You can also make a plan for giving birth, including:

  • Where you would like to give birth – at a hospital, birthing center, or at home
  • What support people (like family members or close friends) you want in the labor room
  • How you want to manage pain during labor
  • Whether you want to breastfeed right after giving birth

Find out when to call your doctor or midwife right away.

Get important prenatal tests.
During your pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will recommend medical tests that are part of routine prenatal care. Some tests need to be done more than once.

These tests give your doctor or midwife important information about you and your baby. Your blood and urine will be checked for:

If you are younger than age 25 or have certain risk factors, your doctor or midwife may also check for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Talk about your family history.
Share your family’s health history with your doctor. This will help you and your doctor decide whether you need any other tests, like genetic testing. Find out more about genetic testing.

Get tested for diabetes.

  • Pregnant women at high risk for type 2 diabetes need to get tested at the first prenatal visit. Find out about your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • All pregnant women need to get tested for gestational (“jes-TAY-shon-al”) diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that some women develop during pregnancy.

What do I need to know about gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes can lead to health problems for moms and babies – during and after pregnancy. It’s important to get tested so that you and your doctor or midwife can take steps to protect your health and your baby’s health.

You are at greater risk for gestational diabetes if you:

  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are over age 25
  • Are African American, Hispanic or Latino American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, or Pacific Islander
  • Had gestational diabetes during an earlier pregnancy
  • Have had a baby weighing over 9 pounds

You can reduce your risk for gestational diabetes by eating healthy and staying active during pregnancy. Use these questions to ask your doctor about getting screened for gestational diabetes.

Learn more about gestational diabetes [PDF - 372 KB].

Not pregnant yet? Plan ahead.

Schedule an appointment with a doctor or midwife.

Take Action!

Take Action!

There are lots of things you can do today to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Get prenatal care.
If you know you are pregnant or think you might be, call your doctor or midwife to schedule a visit. Plan on getting a prenatal checkup at least every month for the first 7 months and more often during the last 2 months of your pregnancy.

It’s important to get your blood pressure checked during every prenatal visit. This helps check for preeclampsia, which is a rare condition that can be serious. Check out these questions to ask your doctor about preeclampsia.

Get important shots.
The Tdap and flu shots are recommended for all pregnant women. Talk to your doctor or midwife about what shots (vaccines) may help protect you and your baby. Find out more about shots

Take charge of your health care.
Speak up and ask questions when you are at the doctor. When you play an active role in your health care, you help make sure that you and your growing family will get good care. Find out how to take charge of your health care.

What about cost?
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover many prenatal tests. Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get these tests at no cost to you. Talk to your insurance company to find out more.

To learn about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.

You can also get help from your state to pay for medical care during pregnancy. There are programs that give medical care, information, advice, and other services that are important for a healthy pregnancy. To find out about the program in your state:

  • Call 1-800-311-BABY (1-800-311-2229).
  • For information in Spanish, call 1-866-783-2645.

Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
One of the best ways to protect your health and your baby's health is to stop smoking and drinking during your pregnancy.

There is no safe amount to drink or smoke while you are pregnant. Both can harm the health of your baby. Be honest with your doctor or midwife about how much you are drinking or smoking.

Secondhand smoke (smoke from other people’s cigarettes) can also put you and your baby at risk for health problems. Stay away from cigarette smoke.

Learn more:

Eat healthy.
Eating well can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Check out these tips on healthy eating during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor or midwife about your nutritional needs during pregnancy.

  • Ask if you need to take a daily prenatal vitamin.
  • Find out about healthy weight gain during your pregnancy.

Stay active. 
Being physically active may help you have a more comfortable pregnancy. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, like walking fast, dancing, or swimming. Do aerobic activity for at least 10 minutes at a time. Get tips to help you stay active during pregnancy.

To get more information about diet and exercise during pregnancy, visit:

Take steps to prevent infections.
Infections can harm your baby. To prevent infections, be sure to:

Keep track of your baby’s movement.
After about 28 weeks of pregnancy, you will probably start to feel your baby move. Keep track of how often your baby moves. If you think your baby is moving less than usual, call your doctor or midwife.

Ask for help if you need it.
Being pregnant may be tiring or stressful at times. Extra support from loved ones can help you have a more comfortable pregnancy. Family members or friends can:

  • Provide emotional support so you feel less stressed
  • Visit the doctor or midwife with you
  • Change the litter box if you have a cat
  • Help prepare for the baby’s arrival by setting up furniture

Think about what you need, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Plan ahead for the first few weeks with your new baby.

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