Make a Plan for a Healthy Pregnancy with Preconception Counseling
Becoming a parent is a major commitment filled with many challenges, and rewards. Pregnancy can be an exciting, fulfilling, delightful time. It can also be a time of uncertainty and change. Many aspects of pregnancy are part of the natural process over which you have no control. However, you can control many important factors in determining your health and the health of your baby. The best way to get the most out of your pregnancy is to obtain the most accurate information and be well informed for the many important decisions you are soon to face. Being well informed will help prevent anxiety and worry and make your pregnancy more pleasant and secure.
Making Some Plans
By making some plans and adjustments prior to becoming pregnant, you can significantly impact the success of your pregnancy and the health of your baby. The advancements in modern obstetrical care have provided you with the opportunity to significantly impact the outcomes of your pregnancy. We have reached a level in prenatal care where the optimal time to assess, manage, and treat many pregnancy conditions and complications are before pregnancy occurs.
Preconception counseling of patients prior to becoming pregnant is an important opportunity to identify, educate, and treat many conditions that may complicate pregnancy. At this time, questions about the individual’s expectations with regard to pregnancy can be discussed, family histories can be explored, and past medical histories obtained. The opportunity to discuss diet, exercise, and the use of medications can be helpful in improving overall health. Immunization to Rubella (Measles) can be given to non-immune individuals and appropriate genetic screening can be offered for individuals at risk for certain diseases such a Tay Sachs disease and others. Specific medical conditions can be discussed, optimally managed, and the possible effects on pregnancy explored.
Conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, asthma, and hypertension can be fully evaluated and treated before pregnancy. Potential occupational environmental exposures can be identified and discussed. The risk of certain birth defects can be reduced. Folic acid supplementation prior to becoming pregnant has been shown to reduce the incidence of spine and brain defects. Prior complications with pregnancy can be discussed and the risk of recurrence can be accessed. By investing time prior to becoming pregnant, you can improve the overall outcome of your pregnancy.
Choosing who will care for you during your pregnancy and delivery may be one of your first decisions. Ideally, you will have already chosen a doctor prior to becoming pregnant and had a chance to discuss preconception issues. If not, you may want to schedule a get acquainted visit with your potential new physician so that you have an opportunity to learn about the practice and the doctor, and to meet the staff. Make sure the physician is qualified by asking question about his or her credentials. Referrals from friends and co-workers are an excellent source, but their specific needs may differ from yours. Be sure to evaluate your needs and concerns prior to your visit and discuss them with your doctor.