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Preparing for Pregnancy? Here Are Some Tips on Pre Pregnancy Diet, Genetic Tests and Other Checklist Items

Pregnant Woman

There are steps you can take to protect your pregnancy even before a positive test.

Jennifer Wong, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Section Chief, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Bridgeport Hospital, has a passion for helping families have safe and supported pregnancies. As part of this process she likes to see patients before they are pregnant to ensure they get the best care possible.

“Preconception counseling is an opportunity to identify and mitigate risk in pregnancy,” said Dr. Wong.  “Patients and their care team are better prepared if conversations are had ahead of a pregnancy.”

Medication management

A major goal of preconception counseling is to review any medications or supplements you might be taking to either stop or find an alternative for anything linked to birth defects.

“If you are taking medications, even over the counter medications, always ask your doctor before getting pregnant since the sensitive period of organ development begins even before a missed period,” said Dr. Wong.


Some people like to load up on pregnancy “off limits” foods like sushi and deli sandwiches before they have to stop cold turkey. Is it wise to change your diet before a pregnancy?

Dr. Wong says that while ingesting these foods before pregnancy isn’t harmful, many people are unaware that they are pregnant until they miss a period. For this reason, if you are actively trying to conceive it is recommended to avoid things like alcohol, smoking or excessive caffeine intake.


Pregnancy can bring a glow for some and acne or other skin conditions for others. When it comes to treating these conditions, Dr. Wong suggests talking to your doctor if you are trying to conceive or may be pregnant as some topical treatments may be harmful during pregnancy.

Additionally, while most haircare products are probably not absorbed systemically at high concentrations, hair treatments that contain formaldehyde should be delayed until after birth. For patients using medicated shampoos, talk to your doctor if you are planning on getting pregnant to ensure that this is safe to continue in pregnancy.


There are certain vaccines people should get before getting pregnant because they protect against viruses that can cause birth defects and miscarriage. These include rubella and varicella. These specific vaccines cannot be given during pregnancy so it is vital to get vaccinated before conceiving.

COVID vaccination is also important for preventing both pregnancy complications and severe complications from COVID-19 infection while pregnant. While COVID vaccinations are safe and recommended during pregnancy, some patients may prefer to be vaccinated before they become pregnant.

Should I do a carrier screening?

Some couples may consider carrier screening pre-pregnancy to see if they may have a higher risk of having a child with certain inherited genetic disorders. Results could allow you to have an informed conversation with a genetic counselor prior to pregnancy should the need arise.

Should I plan where to deliver my baby?

“The decision of which hospital is best for delivery or which doctors are best to see depends on your personal priorities and what you need medically,” said Dr. Wong. “For low risk patients, factors such as distance from home, where your obstetrician has hospital privileges for delivery, and what services are available may be the deciding factors.”

Dr. Wong says that high risk patients may have specific needs in terms of selecting a hospital that can provide appropriate level maternal-fetal care or neonatal care as indicated by their specific high risk condition.

“Preconception counseling may be helpful for patients with high risk issues that predate pregnancy to determine ahead of time which hospital/doctors may be best suited to take care of that patient during a future pregnancy,” said Dr. Wong.

Is it time to test?

Home pregnancy tests are becoming more sensitive and are able to detect pregnancies earlier.  If your period is late, that is a reasonable time to check a urine pregnancy test.