In Depth: Safe Pregnancy

A Healthy Start for You and Your Baby

Over the past several decades, hospitals, healthcare providers, and patients have become more willing to intervene in the natural process of pregnancy and childbirth. This has come without any pressing medical reason, but has raised risks for mothers and babies.

Give your baby a great start. Make sure you talk to your doctor about the information we’ve assembled here, to be sure you are doing things that are medically necessary for you and your baby, and to avoid things that are not.

Contents of This Section

Preparing for Pregnancy
During Your Pregnancy
During Labor and Delivery
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Preparing for Pregnancy

If you're planning to get pregnant, include these items on your checklist. Careful attention to your own health and habits in advance of conception will reduce the risk of harm to your developing child. And if you're having difficulty getting pregnant, here's advice on the tests you really need.


Thinking of Getting Pregnant? 5 Things to Start Now Talk to your doctor about these 5 things to do before and during your pregnancy. They’ll help you – and your baby – have the best chance for a healthy start.

When it’s Hard to Get Pregnant  If you and your partner have not been able to have a baby, talk to your gynecologist or a fertility specialist. Usually both you and your partner will need some tests. Many of the tests are helpful. But some tests are not needed. 


During Your Pregnancy

Despite a healthcare system that outspends those in the rest of the world, infants and mothers fare worse in the U.S. than in many other industrialized nations.  Why are we doing so badly? Partly because mothers tend to be less healthy than in the past. But another key reason appears to be that convenience has grown to take priority over the best outcomes. Here are many ways you can promote a good outcome and avoid putting your baby at risk.




10 Things to Do During Your Pregnancy and Labor Talk to your doctor about these 10 things to do during your pregnancy, labor, and delivery. They’ll help you – and your baby – get off to a healthy start.

10 Over-the-Counter Drugs to Avoid During Pregnancy  To help you and your doctor make more informed choices about which medications to take, we’ve identified 10 common ingredients used in OTC drugs that are risky for pregnant women, as well as safer alternatives.

The Great Fish Debate Many studies have shown us that it's important and healthy to eat more fish. But consuming too much of certain species could put you and your unborn baby at risk for mercury exposure. 

What to Reject When You’re Expecting  Some technological innovations can be used inappropriately. Here are 10 procedures to think twice about during your pregnancy.

Blood Tests for Miscarriage Risk  Blood tests to show your risk of miscarriage have become more common. The tests show if you have thrombophilia, which may increase the risk of a miscarriage or other problems during pregnancy. Often the tests are not needed, even if you have had a pregnancy problem.



During Labor and Delivery

It is surprising how many routine hospital procedures during childbirth really are not necessary, or even best for the baby and mother. Prepare yourself with this information, so you can let your healthcare providers know your wishes beforehand.


10 Things to Reject in the Delivery Room  Talk to your doctor about these 10 things that you may want to reject during your baby’s delivery. They’ll help you – and your baby – get off to a healthier start.

Your Biggest C-Section Risk May Be Your Hospital  Consumer Reports finds that the rate of cesarean sections varies from hospital to hospital and state to state.

Early Delivery  To hurry a baby’s birth—just to make it convenient for you or your doctor—can increase the risk of serious problems for both you and your baby.

Monitoring Your Baby’s Heartbeat During Labor  Doctors, nurses, and midwives check your baby during labor and birth with a fetal heart rate monitor. There are two ways to do this. The type of monitoring called IA, for intermittent auscultation, is often the better choice. You may want to ask for it if you have a low risk for problems during labor.



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