Planning for your future pregnancies with a pre-pregnancy consult is the single best way to avoid complications during pregnancy.
But too few women are aware of the benefits of preconception consultation. Many don’t think they need to talk with a doctor until after they have seen the positive results of a pregnancy test. Almost half of all pregnancies are unintended, meaning no consideration of potential risks for the mother or baby were considered before becoming pregnant. Many of those risks occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy and can be reduced by planning and ensuring optimal health before the pregnancy occurs.
Why make an appointment for a consultation when you aren’t sure if and when you will get pregnant? Information is power. And knowing as much as you can about your potential risks can help you avoid them. For example:
- You may have an unhealthy diet that could put you or your baby at risk.
- You may have a chronic disease that needs special treatment during pregnancy.
- Medications you are taking (or the dosage level) could be harmful to a developing fetus.
- The stress of your job or lifestyle may put you or your baby at increased risk.
- A family medical history may increase your risk of having a baby with a genetic defect.
- You may need guidance on when to begin prenatal care.
Preparing for a positive pregnancy
The Center for Disease Control recommends a preconception visit for women to ensure that you adopt healthy behaviors and get all the information you need about your health and the risks you and your baby may face during pregnancy. When you visit a practice that specializes in maternal-fetal medicine, such as the High Risk Pregnancy Center, you will learn what you can do to minimize these risks and get clear recommendations on how to proceed.
A preconception visit should cover:
- Any family medical history that could affect a pregnancy, such as:
- Blood clotting disorders
- Genetic disorders or birth defects
- Issues that may affect a pregnancy, such as:
- Advanced maternal age (35 years or older at time of delivery)
- Recurrent pregnancy loss or stillbirth
- History of preterm labor
- An IVF conception
- The healthy behaviors you need to adopt while pregnant, including:
- Taking folic acid
- Maintaining the right weight throughout your pregnancy.
- Eating a healthy diet with the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
- Abstaining from alcohol and drugs.
- How to manage chronic diseases during pregnancy, including:
- Thyroid disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Infectious disease
- The correct dosage of any prescription medication you are on:
- For example, if you take thyroid medication, the dosage needs to be adjusted throughout pregnancy, since thyroid hormone is critical for the normal brain development of your baby and for your own continued health.
The goal of every mother-to-be is a happy pregnancy and a healthy baby. While we can’t foresee or eliminate all risks, we can help you set the stage for the healthiest pregnancy possible when you come to us before you conceive.
For more information about our preconception consults, please call our office at 702-382-3200.