The Key Points of Preconception Health
Planning to start a family soon? It’s never too early to start forming healthy habits for your pregnancy. Your health will directly impact your baby, and what may work for you now may require some adjustments when you’re pregnant. The first few weeks of pregnancy are incredibly important to your child’s development, so if you’re planning to get pregnant, consider these points of preconception health.
With Your Physician
When you first decide to start trying to get pregnant, make an appointment with your physician. This will give you the opportunity to go over any health concerns that may influence your pregnancy. Be sure to touch on:
- Medical conditions: If you have any medical conditions (even those under control or treated), your physician can advise you on how they could impact your preconception health or how pregnancy could change your care. Diabetes, thyroid disease, seizures disorders, eating disorders and chronic disease can all affect pregnancy.
- Medications: Some medications, including over-the-counter options and supplements, can cause birth defects, so it’s important to review your current medications with your physician and make adjustments where needed.
- Supplements: Ask specifically about folic acid. When taken at least one month before and during pregnancy, this B vitamin can prevent major birth defects of the brain and spine.
- Vaccinations: Not only do you want to make sure you’re up-to-date on your own vaccinations, keeping in communication with your physician can ensure you have the right schedule for your newborn’s shots.
- Family history: Bring your family history with you to your consultation if your physician does not already have a copy. Run through areas of concern, asking any questions you may have. Your physician may recommend genetic counseling.
On Your Own
While your physician is a wonderful resource for forming healthy lifestyle habits, you can begin taking steps to impact your health and that of your baby even before your first appointment. You may want to:
- Quit smoking: Twenty to 30 percent of low-birthweight babies and up to 14 percent of pre-term deliveries are associated with smoking during pregnancy. If you are looking for support for smoking cessation, your healthcare provider can help.
- Reduce — and then eliminate — alcohol consumption: The first few weeks of pregnancy are particularly important, so you’ll want to be in the best shape went you conceive. This means reducing consumption of harmful substances like alcohol, and then avoiding them entirely during your pregnancy.
- Address stress: Anxiety and stress can cause delayed or missed periods, which make it difficult to get pregnant. Develop relaxation techniques and minimize stress as much as possible before trying to get pregnant.
- Aim for a healthy weight: Being overweight or underweight can cause serious pregnancy complications. For the health of you and your baby, spend the time before you get pregnant reaching your goal weight. Starting out at a healthy weight will also give you a good sense of weight management during your pregnancy.
- Maintain your healthy habits: This means eating well and getting good, restful sleep. The healthier you are, the easier pregnancy will be.
Keep these healthy habits in mind when you become pregnant, and then focus on your first trimester to-do’s.