Pregnancy

Have a Healthy Pregnancy

Have a Healthy Pregnancy

The Basics

Overview

Health care during pregnancy is called prenatal care. Getting prenatal care can help you have a healthier baby. It also lowers the risk of your baby being born too early, which can lead to health problems for your baby.

During prenatal care, your doctor or midwife can find any health problems that may come up. A midwife is a health professional who provides health care during pregnancy and helps pregnant people during childbirth.

Get regular prenatal checkups.

Schedule a visit with your doctor or midwife as soon as you know you're pregnant — or if you think you might be. You'll need many checkups with your doctor or midwife during your pregnancy. Don't miss any of these appointments — they're all important.

Be sure to get all the medical tests that your doctor or midwife recommends. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others.

Take steps to have a healthy pregnancy.

To keep you and your baby healthy, it's important that you:

  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol
  • Eat healthy and get enough folic acid
  • Stay physically active

Get more tips for a healthy pregnancy:

Topics to Discuss

Make the most of each visit with the doctor or midwife.

Talk with your doctor or midwife about:

  • Your personal and family health history, including any chronic (long-term) health problems or surgeries you've had
  • When you need to get medical care for issues that can come up — like high blood pressure, dizziness, swelling, pain, bleeding, or contractions
  • When and where to go for emergency care during your pregnancy
  • Any prescription and over-the-counter medicines that you take — as well as vitamins, supplements, and herbs
  • Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

These visits are also a great time to discuss:

If you're worried about your health during pregnancy, don't wait to ask for help. Learn more about pregnancy complications and when to call your doctor or midwife.

Make a birth plan.

A birth plan describes what you want to happen during childbirth and after your baby's birth. It can include:

  • Where you'd like to give birth — for example, at a hospital or birthing center
  • Who you want with you for support (like your partner, family member, or close friend) before, during, and after childbirth
  • How you want to manage pain during childbirth
  • Who you want to help you make important medical decisions during childbirth
  • Your plan to breastfeed after your baby is born

Talk with your doctor about depression.

Many people experience depression during and after pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about your risk for depression and whether you need counseling to help prevent it.

Medical Tests

Get important medical tests.

During your pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will recommend medical tests that all people need as part of routine prenatal care. You’ll need to get some tests more than once.

These tests give your doctor or midwife important information about you and your baby. The tests will check your blood or urine (pee) for:

If you're younger than age 25 or have certain risk factors, your doctor or midwife may also check for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Learn more about STDs during pregnancy.

Your doctor or midwife will also check your blood pressure regularly during your pregnancy. They may recommend that you check your own blood pressure at home using a monitor you can buy at a drug store. High blood pressure during pregnancy can be a sign of preeclampsia, a health problem that some pregnant people develop. Learn more about preventing preeclampsia.

Talk about your family history.

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

Diabetes Testing

Get tested for gestational diabetes.

All pregnant people need to get tested for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that some people develop during pregnancy.

Pregnant people at high risk for type 2 diabetes may need to get tested earlier than people at normal risk. Find out about your risk for type 2 diabetes.

What do I need to know about gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes can lead to health problems for moms and babies — both during and after pregnancy. It’s important to get tested so that you and your doctor or midwife can take steps to protect you and your baby.

You're at higher risk for gestational diabetes if you:

  • Are overweight or have obesity
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are over age 25
  • Are African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
  • Had gestational diabetes during an earlier pregnancy
  • Have had a baby weighing over 9 pounds
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

You can reduce your risk for gestational diabetes by eating healthy and staying active during pregnancy.

Cost and Insurance

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover routine prenatal tests. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get these tests at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to find out more.

To learn more, check out these resources:

If you don’t have health insurance, you can still get help paying for medical care during pregnancy:

Learn more about health insurance options for pregnant people.

Take Action

Get Prenatal Care

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

Get regular prenatal care.

Plan on getting a prenatal checkup at least once a month for the first 6 months (through week 28) — and more often during the last 3 months of your pregnancy (after week 28). Learn more about prenatal care.

Get important vaccines.

All pregnant people need whooping cough and flu vaccines (shots). Talk to your doctor or midwife about getting other vaccines to help protect you and your baby. Learn more about vaccines for adults

Take charge of your health care.

Speak up and ask questions when you're with your doctor or midwife. 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.

Keep track of your baby’s movement.

Sometime between 16 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, you'll 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.

Don't Smoke, Drink Alcohol, or Use Drugs

Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs.

One of the best ways to protect you and your baby is to stop smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs before you become pregnant — or as soon as possible during your pregnancy.

There's no safe amount to drink or smoke while you're pregnant. Both can harm your baby’s health. Talk with your doctor or midwife about ways to help you quit.

Quitting all forms of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes (vapes), is best for you and your baby. 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 during your pregnancy.

Using drugs during pregnancy — including opioid pain medicines and marijuana — can also put your baby’s health at risk. If you’re pregnant and using drugs, talk with your doctor right away.

Learn more:

Eat Healthy and Stay Active

Get the nutrients you need.

Making healthy food choices and taking supplements as needed can help you gain weight in a healthy way, feel good while you're pregnant, and have a healthy baby.

Gain weight in a healthy way.

Gaining a certain amount of weight during pregnancy is important for both you and your baby. Learn how much weight is healthy for you to gain during pregnancy.

Even if you're overweight, you still need to gain some weight for your baby to grow. Ask your doctor or midwife how much weight is healthy for you to gain. 

Stay active. 

Being physically active can help you have a healthier pregnancy. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — like walking, dancing, or swimming. 

If you haven’t been active before, start slow and do what you can! Even a 5-minute walk has real health benefits, and you can add more activity over time.

Get more information about physical activity during pregnancy from these resources:

Prevent Infections

Take steps to prevent infections.

Follow these tips to prevent infections and help keep your baby safe:

Learn more about preventing infections during pregnancy.

Get Support and Plan Ahead

Ask for help if you need it.

Being pregnant may be tiring or stressful at times. Extra support from loved ones can help. For example, family members or friends can:

  • Provide emotional support so you feel less stressed
  • Visit the doctor or midwife with you
  • Go with you to a breastfeeding or birthing class
  • 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 year with your new baby.

Having a new baby is exciting, but it can be stressful. Take steps to help you prepare for your new baby:

Read more about preparing for your baby.

Before You Get Pregnant

Not pregnant yet? Plan ahead.

Planning ahead can help you have a healthier pregnancy. For example: 

Read about more things you can do to plan ahead.

Schedule an appointment with a doctor or midwife.

Content last updated June 23, 2022

Reviewer Information

This information on healthy pregnancy was adapted from materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, and the Office on Women’s Health.

Reviewed by:
Heather Hamner, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.H.
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Valerie Levy, M.P.H.
Public Health Advisor
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention