Preconception Health Care: The Underestimated Facts
Did you know that what’s happening in your body months before you get pregnant is important to the outcome of your pregnancy? Your health during this delicate period not only determines if you’ll successfully conceive and carry the pregnancy to full term but also, it has an impact on your baby’s health.
So, how much do you know about the preconception period?
Your doctor – your best friend!
How long your body needs to prepare for pregnancy depends on your current health status, so, a check-up at your doctor’s office is crucial. Whether this is your first child or you’ve given birth previously, before getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about your intentions.
It’s important to discuss your health history and any medical conditions you currently have that could affect a pregnancy. Your doctor will also need to look into any previous pregnancy problems, medicines that you are currently taking, vaccinations that you might need, and steps you can take before pregnancy to prevent certain birth defects.
If you currently have any medical conditions, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), diabetes, thyroid disease, phenylketonuria (PKU), seizure disorders, high blood pressure, arthritis or even eating disorders, be sure to let your doctor know about it and get it treated.
Taking certain medicines during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. These include some prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements. If you are planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the usage of any of these with your doctor before attempting to conceive and do not take any medicine that your doctor has not approved of.
Are you at your ideal weight?
Being overweight or obese places you at a higher risk for many serious conditions, including complications during pregnancy, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon). People who are underweight are also at risk for serious health problems.
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight will require some changes in lifestyle and that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity. If you are overweight, or obese, talk with your doctor about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant.
Your family’s health history counts too!
Some illnesses are genetic and some are hereditary, so sharing your family’s health history information with your doctor is important. Based on the information you provide, your doctor might refer you for genetic counseling. Genetic counseling may also be needed if you’ve had several miscarriages, infant deaths, or if you find it difficult to conceive.