Planning to have a baby is a life-changing decision and it is understandable that you are excited to plan for the newborn’s arrival. But before planning their arrival you should plan the pregnancy, and this is the moment when you should call your OB and schedule an appointment. If you are ready to expand your family the preconception-counseling visit is a must.
Why should you have a preconception-counseling visit? Well, it’s simple, the doctor will assess the risk you will put on your body if you get pregnant and they will make sure your health is optimized before you conceive the baby. The doctor visit can help you identify the possible risks that can affect you or your baby during pregnancy, and it can help you achieve a healthy pregnancy.
Preconception care can help you identify possible problems that can affect your pregnancy
You should not have the misconception that preconception counseling happens in a single visit, you will probably visit multiple doctors, multiple times. Depending on your health condition, the list of doctors you have to see may expand. For example, if you suffer from an autoimmune disease or diabetes you should discuss with a specialist in addition to the OB.
If you are a healthy woman, you can start the preconception counseling with your gynecologist and if they consider further check necessary, they will make recommendations. You can also start with your family practitioner if they have knowledge of reproductive health; see first the doctor you see regularly.
Your health state, lifestyle choices and genetics will influence your baby’s health, and if you cannot change your DNA, you can work on your lifestyle habits and health problems. The doctor will make a list with the health, lifestyle and genetic factors that could influence your fertility and will address the ones that prohibit it to help you conceive. For example, if you are overweight they will probably recommend you to lose some pounds before getting pregnant, if you smoke they will advise you to quit this habit and so on.
The doctor will also offer you recommendations on taking folate before conceiving, and what nutrient and dietary changes you should bring to your diet. Being prepared for a possible pregnancy is a good idea, so you should have a visit to a women health center Queens to review your history.
Here are the most important things you should consider
Do you have an infection risk?
Infections can increase the risk of birth defects, so if you think you are at risk for an infection or a sexually transmitted disease you should have a test, and treat the issue if necessary. If you are infected with chicken pox or rubella while pregnant, they can cause birth defects. Do all vaccinations before conceiving because some of them have side effects if done during that period.
Get the right supplements
Your OB will probably recommend you to take folic acid before you get pregnant. You can take it from your diet if you consume leafy green vegetables regularly, but for a healthy pregnancy, it is advisable to have a daily supplement of 400 mcg, the period prior tomconceiving. Folic acid is effective in preventing the risk of health problems like spina bifida and neural tube defects.
Depending on your health state, your OB may recommend you to have a higher intake of folic acid. Also, some vitamins can prove harmful if you take them in excess, so you should not take any before seeing a specialist. If you are taking herbal products or other supplements, you should inform the doctor because they can influence your health and the health of the baby.
Have a healthy diet and exercise regularly
The conceiving period may be quite stressful for you, especially if you are trying for a long period. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle can help you in this situation. If you are overweight, you have a higher risk to experience pregnancy and childbirth complications like high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm birth and neural tube defects.
Being underweight can also lead to pregnancy risks, your baby has great chances to have a low birth weight or to be delivered preterm. The OB can tell you if your weight is a concern and if you should make dietary changes.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
As stated before some lifestyle choices can impact your conceiving and pregnancy. Smoking, drug and alcohol use, and other similar habits can have a negative impact on child development. If you do not quit these unhealthy habits before getting pregnant, you expose yourself to pregnancy complications like placental abruption and intrauterine growth restriction.
You should stop consuming alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs a few months before conceiving the baby.
What to expect?
- During your doctor visit or visits, you will need your personal and family’s medical history.
- You will discuss the chronic medical problems you suffer from and the medications you use
- You will focus on hereditary and genetic conditions your family members may experience
- You will discuss personal vaccinations, infections, substance use, nutritional status, and environmental exposures
- A physical exam may be required if you didn’t have one on the last year
- You will have a Pap smear exam and sexually transmitted infections screening
- You will be tested to confirm your immunity to rubella and varicella if you have an uncertain vaccination history
- If you have a chronic medical problem, you will have to schedule an appointment with a specialist and discuss your pregnancy plans. Some of your medications may be altered or the dosage optimized to allow you to have a healthy baby.
- You will have to track your menstrual cycles for a couple of months, you can use a phone app if you find it hard to remind the dates.
- You will have to make sure you feel comfortable with your OB if you plan for pregnancy because they will assist you during the entire period. If you do not have a connection with him or her, you should see another specialist.
If you want to find more details about preconception counseling, please visit Emu Health 83-40 Woodhaven Blvd, Glendale, NY 11385 (718) 850-4368