Baby New Year?
If getting pregnant is high on your list of resolutions for 2010, be sure to read this quick guide for conceiving and having a healthy baby before you reach the point of no return...

There's more to conceiving a healthy baby than "sperm meets egg." To reduce the risks of miscarriage and birth defects and to promote your fetus's health, you're going to want healthy sperm from a healthy dad-to-be to meet a healthy egg in a healthy mom-to-be.

  • Get preconception checkups. Schedule visits with both the mother- and father-to-be's healthcare providers to assess your medical histories and current health, fitness and lifestyles; identify risks and changes you need to make; asses your medications' compatibility with fertility and being pregnant; receive necessary vaccinations; and to learn how to manage conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy during pregnancy.

  • Follow a healthy diet. Eat fresh, nutritious foods, including those with fiber to prevent constipation; complex carbohydrates for energy; proteins for tissue and muscle growth; and fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals. Limit your consumption of fats, sugars and salt and avoid chemical additives and preservatives. Don't skip meals or eat junk.

  • Take folic acid supplements. Folic acid prevents certain brain and spinal disorders in developing babies. Starting to take it months before you become pregnant ensures it's already protecting your fetus the moment it's conceived.

  • Watch your weight. Being over- or underweight can make conception more difficult and increase the possibility of pregnancy and birth complications. Follow any diet and exercise routine prescribed by your healthcare provider to achieve your healthy weight.

  • Get proper exercise. Moderate exercise such as brisk walking, aerobics, swimming, jogging and yoga can improve your health, energy and chances of conceiving, and is generally safe throughout pregnancy. Ask your heath care provider how much and which types of exercise are appropriate for you.

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages and don't smoke. Drinking alcohol and smoking (even secondhand smoke) reduce fertility in men and women and pose developmental risks to fetuses.

  • Reduce stress. Include relaxation exercises in your daily routine.