Health Information for Women Planning a Pregnancy

Preconception health means taking care of your own health now to make sure that if you choose to start a family, you'll be healthy for yourself and your future baby. Whether you're thinking about now, the near future, or not at all, the key is setting goals, making a plan, and most importantly, taking care of yourself during preconception since your health before pregnancy can affect the health of your baby.

Show Your Love

If you're ready to get pregnant, it's time to nurture and love yourself by planning and preparing your body for pregnancy.

If you're not planning to become pregnant, your future is filled with many possibilities and choices. The demands of everyday life are great. It's important to show yourself some love so that you'll be ready to take on the world.

What Women of Childbearing Age Should Do

Some of the best things you can do to to protect your health and the health of a family you may want to have in the future are to:

  • Talk with a healthcare provider.
  • Take steps get and stay healthy.
  • Develop a reproductive life plan.

Talk with a healthcare provider

Talk with a doctor or other healthcare provider about what you can do to be in the best health before you become pregnant. Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are taking. These include dietary or herbal supplements.

It is also important to get regular checkups at least once a year. Care is best provided in a continuous manner with the same healthcare provider. If you do not have a primary healthcare provider, there are a number of places you can get no or low-cost healthcare services, even if you are uninsured. more

Take steps to get and stay healthy

  • Choose behaviors like eating a healthy diet, being physically active, and taking folic acid every day.
  • Stop drinking alcohol, smoking, and using street drugs. Take prescription medicines as directed. Local help is available for tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.
  • Get screened and tested for possible medical problems like infections and diabetes.
  • Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
  • Get mentally healthy. Get plenty of sleep, and find ways to control stress.
  • Talk with your doctor about how to best manage your medical conditions.
  • If you are not currently planning to become pregnant, use an effective method of contraception (birth control) correctly and consistently to prevent pregnancy.
  • If you have dental or other oral health needs, see an oral healthcare provider to get them taken care of. more
  • If you have a history of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), or have a new partner, get tested for STIs. more
  • Avoid contact with chemicals and toxins or materials that could cause infection.
  • Stay away from cat and rodent waste. If you own a cat, ask your healthcare provider about toxoplasmosis. You can lower your risk of getting this infection by having a non-pregnant person change the litter box. more
  • If you think you might be in an abusive relationship, contact the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the 24 hour/day Rhode Island Victims of Crime helpline to get help.

Develop a reproductive life plan

A reproductive life plan is a set of personal goals about having (or not having) children and a plan for how to achieve them. Think about when and under what conditions you want to become pregnant. Then make sure your actions support these goals. Your healthcare provider can help you understand the options that are best for you. Health planning tools and checklists are available for women who want to become pregnant and for women who do not currently want to become pregnant.

What We Do

  • Support the national "Show Your Love" preconception health campaign. more
  • Provide family planning services to help individuals plan for the number and spacing of their children.
  • Offer free family visits to pregnant women and families with young children. more
  • Oversee newborn health screening. more
  • Link families with WIC Program services. more
  • Collaborate with and support healthcare providers to decrease the rate of premature births and increase the number of planned pregnancies in Rhode Island.
  • Collaborate with and support healthcare providers and community groups working to increase breastfeeding rates in Rhode Island. more
  • Coordinate statewide efforts to reduce lead exposure in children and create safer living environments for all Rhode Islanders. more
  • Provide services to help smokers quit and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. more