Ideally, preparing for a baby begins at least three months before conception. Why so early? The better your health, the healthier your baby is likely to be.
Visiting your obstetrician is one of the first steps in planning a healthy pregnancy. During your appointment, you'll discuss your family and personal health histories, as well as any medications you are taking [source: DHHS: Preconception]. Your physician should make sure your vaccinations are up to date, particularly rubella and chicken pox, which are live-virus vaccines and should not be given during pregnancy [source: Brundage].
Expect a few recommendations for lifestyle changes, too. If you live with a housecat, you'll be advised to give up litter box duties. There is a parasite in cat feces that can cause toxoplasmosis -- an infection that can be life-threatening to developing babies. For this same reason, you'll be cautioned to wear gloves while gardening and avoid eating undercooked meat.
You'll probably receive a prescription for prenatal vitamins or recommendations for an over-the-counter version that will adequately provide the nutritional boost your body needs. Keep in mind that not all multivitamins are equal: You'll need at least 400 micrograms of folic acid taken daily at least one month before conception and continued through the natal and postnatal periods [source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].
Your preconception planning should include a visit to the dentist to make sure your teeth and gums are in good health. Mounting evidence suggests periodontal disease makes women more likely to have a preterm or low birth weight baby [source: American Academy of Periodontology].