Preconception Health- A woman’s health before she gets pregnant

Spread the love

Before a woman considers trying for a baby she should know her own health and the risks from this to her baby.  Her diet, her physical fitness and any illnesses she might have must all be considered.

Why does preconception health matter?

Everyone should consider their health whether or not they are planning pregnancy but for a woman who may have a chance of becoming pregnant this is far more important. About half of all pregnancies are unplanned and this makes premature birth and low birth weight much more likely.  Despite advances in medicine 1 in 8 babies are still born too early and all experts agree that improvements in a woman’s health before conception can greatly improve your baby’s health and greatly lower the risks of problems during pregnancy and after birth.

Six tips to improve preconception health

Both women and men should improve their health at least three months before planning to become pregnant.  The six most important things to do are:-

  • Women should take 400-800 mcg of folic acid every day. This lowers the risk of many brain and spinal diseases the most common being spina bifida. Your doctor should prescribe this so be sure to visit your health centre.
  • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. The research indicating that smoking and alcohol are bad for health is indisputable. The same is true for the effects on your baby. Men too should avoid these if they want to maximize chances of pregnancy and a healthy baby.
  • Talk to your doctor about any medicines, prescribed or over the counter that you may be using. Some of these may negatively affect your baby even if they are helping with a medical issue that you have.
  • Make sure any medical problems you have are under control to minimize the effect on your baby. Obesity, diabetes, asthma and many other health problems need to be checked to minimize effects.
  • Avoid toxic chemicals such as poisons, weed killers and avoid animal faeces and any other pollutants or sources of bacteria and infection.
  • Make sure your immunizations are up to date.

Your partner’s role

Your partner needs to be supportive and get himself checked by his doctor.

STDs or genetic illnesses need to be treated and your partner needs to be in optimum health to maximize his fertility if you are seriously trying for a baby.

Talk to him about the pregnancy and make sure you both understand the commitment and responsibility that making a baby requires as well as the profound effects on life that children can bring.

Genetic counselling

The genes you were born with can affect your baby in many ways. Talk to your doctor about your family’s health history. This may help your doctor decide if there are any genetic risks that need to be considered.

Some reasons that you may need genetic counselling are:-

  • A family history of a genetic condition, birth defect, chromosomal disorder, or cancer
  • Two or more pregnancy losses, a stillbirth, or a baby who died
  • A child with a known inherited disorder, birth defect, or intellectual disability
  • A woman who is pregnant or plans to become pregnant at 35 years or older
  • Test results that suggest a genetic condition is present
  • Increased risk of getting or passing on a genetic disorder because of one’s ethnic background
  • People related by blood who want to have children together

Don’t worry too much, just do what you can

All areas of life involve risk and the secret is to make the risks as small as possible. Aiming for good preconception health is not about living a perfectly healthy life or worrying all the time whether you are doing the right thing or not. A baby is a blessing and being pregnant is part of that blessing. Aim for a good standard of life and get yourself checked out. Then enjoy trying to make a baby, safe that in the knowledge that you have tried your best!

Welcome to Baby Arabia