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Preparing for Pregnancy

If you're thinking about becoming pregnant, don't wait for the results of a home pregnancy test before seeing an OBGYN. The best time to have that first prenatal visit to an OBGYN is before you become pregnant, because a healthier you could mean a healthier baby.

Schedule your visit with an OBGYN who delivers at CentraState so you can start preparing for pregnancy.

When preparing to become pregnant, and throughout your pregnancy, there are many things expectant mothers need to do to help insure they have a healthy and safe pregnancy and delivery. The changes can involve both lifestyle changes and nutritional changes for the expectant mother.

Your First OBGYN Visit

The initial prenatal visit to your OBGYN is usually the longest. During the first visit, a complete physical exam, along with a detailed family history and blood and lab work will be ordered or performed by your OBGYN. Your OBGYN will then calculate your baby’s due date and that date will serve as a reference for future OBGYN visits when your baby’s growth is assessed. All prenatal visits include a measurement of your weight, recording of your blood pressure and urine testing, and a discussion about how you feel and if you have any questions or concerns of being or becoming pregnant.

In an uncomplicated pregnancy, most women see their OBGYN once a month until the 32nd week. At that point, you will be seen by your OBGYN every two weeks, and in the final month of pregnancy (37 weeks until delivery) your visits will be increased to weekly.

Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy

What you eat before you become pregnant is almost as important as what you eat when you are pregnant. You should try to reach your ideal weight before conceiving. Being overweight or underweight can be a health risk to you and your baby during pregnancy.

Your baby depends on what you eat and drink for adequate nourishment. If a woman is nutritionally deprived, so is her baby. Although you need to make good food choices, you do not need to "eat for two." Most pregnant women require about 300 extra calories per day. These extra calories should be used to increase your protein and calcium intakes.

Foods rich in protein include lean meats, fish, beans and nuts. Milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products are great for ingesting the necessary extra calcium and protein necessary during pregnancy.

A prenatal vitamin is recommended during pregnancy. Most daily vitamins don’t contain the recommended number of vitamins and minerals for pregnancy. Take a daily vitamin containing at least 400 mcg of folate for at least six weeks before becoming pregnant.

If you have any questions about nutrition during pregnancy or would like to schedule an appointment with a nutritionist, contact our Nutrition Department at (732) 431-2000.

Lifestyle Changes During Pregnancy

Smoking/Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy
If you are a smoker, you should quit before you get pregnant. You should also stop drinking alcohol while pregnant. Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption pose serious risks to a woman and her baby during the pregnancy. Some of the effects of drinking and/or smoking while pregnant include:

  • Mental retardation
  • Learning and behavioral problems
  • Birth defects such as organ, heart
  • Low-birth weights

These risks increase the longer you continue smoking and drinking while pregnant. If you need help with quitting smoking, contact our Star and Barry Tobias Health Awareness Center. To learn more about our Smoking Cessation Program call (732) 308-0570. Visit our class calendar to search for upcoming class dates.

Exercise During Pregnancy
The amount of exercise that a pregnant woman can comfortably and safely carry out is usually related to what she has been accustomed to before pregnancy. During any form of exercise, it’s important for you to "listen to your body" and rest when you begin to feel tired, and stop exercising during any routine that causes pain or strain. Activities that involve sudden and excessive jolting motions, along with those that impose a danger of falling are best avoided, especially as your pregnancy progresses.

To learn more about exercise programs available for pregnant women at CentraState, visit our Fitness & Wellness Center or call (732) 845-9400.

Body Changes During Pregnancy

Once you become pregnant, your body will begin changing to support the baby. Following is a list of body changes that can occur with pregnancy:

  • Breast changes - Breast changes in preparation for milk production begin early in pregnancy. The brown circles around the nipples darken. Blood vessels become more noticeable. Breasts may increase in size and feel tender.
  • Fatigue - Your body undergoes enormous metabolic changes to adjust to your growing baby, so it's not surprising that during the first 8-10 weeks of pregnancy, many women complain of extreme tiredness. This fatigue may lessen as your body adjusts.
  • Nausea - May or may not be accompanied by vomiting. Both tiredness and an empty stomach are thought to contribute to nausea. Small, frequent snacks of bland food may help.
  • Frequent urination - The growing uterus stretches the base of the bladder, resulting in a feeling of fullness.
  • Bleeding gums - Happens often during pregnancy, even with just a mild irritation from brushing. This will disappear after pregnancy.
  • Constipation - Can be due to the slowed action of the intestines and pressure on the rectum. Eating fiber-rich fruits and vegetables can help.
  • Dizziness - Lightheadedness, especially when standing up too quickly, is related in part to the delay in the return of blood to the heart because of the pressure the uterus exerts on veins in the abdomen while pregnant.
  • Swelling - Commonly occurs in the feet and ankles towards the end of pregnancy.
  • Mood swings - Many women report wide mood swings and unusual sensitivity while pregnant.
  • Quickening - Refers to the active movements of the baby that you'll feel, starting anywhere from 16-20 weeks. Often described as a fluttering sensation.


While pregnant, you will need to decide if you will breastfeed your baby. If you choose to breastfeed, the more you know about it before you deliver, the better. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breast-fed for 6-12 months. Breast-fed babies have lower rates of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhea, rashes, allergies and other medical problems than do bottle-fed babies.

Nursing should begin within an hour after delivery if possible (when an infant is awake and the sucking urge is strong). If you decide to deliver at CentraState’s First Impressions Maternity Center, lactation consultants are available to assist the mother with education and direction on how to successfully breastfeed her baby. Even though you won’t be producing milk yet, your breasts contain colostrum, a thin fluid that contains antibodies, which are important for your newborn. Newborns nurse frequently, often every two hours. This will stimulate your breasts to produce plenty of milk. Later, your baby will settle into a more predictable routine.

For more information on breastfeeding classes at CentraState please visit our class calendar or call (732) 308-0570.

CentraState asks that you consider the First Impressions Maternity Center for your pregnancy care and delivery. For more information regarding services offered through the First Impressions Maternity Center please call 866-CENTRA7. You can view our facility through our virtual tours or schedule an in-person tour of our maternity center online or call (732) 308-0570.