Preconceptional health refers to the health of the person planning to be pregnant before pregnancy occurs.
Preconceptional counseling involves careful review of a woman's medical, reproductive, nutritional, and family history so that potential problems can be discovered, individualized education provided and possible interventions discussed and offered. A health care provider such as a physician, nurse-midwife or advanced practice nurse may provide such service.
Women who are in good health and practice healthy habits are more likely to give birth to a healthy baby. Baby Your Baby encourages all women to be in their best health before they get pregnant - either for the first time or the fifth time. (Facts on Birth Spacing) Research shows that women who are healthiest before pregnancy have the best outcomes. Good health before you become pregnant is one of the most important parts of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Here are a few suggestions every women should try to follow before planning a pregnancy:
- Be at your optimal weight and eat a nutritious diet. (Calculate your BMI- Body Mass Index)
- Overweight or under weight women tend to have more pregnancy-related problems and give birth to more low-weight babies.
- Every woman of childbearing age should take a multi-vitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid on a daily basis.
- Avoid using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs, and do not use them at all when trying to get pregnant. Many women stop using them after they learn they are pregnant - which is good. However, the most important fetal development takes place in the first few weeks or pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant and while they are using nicotine, drugs and alcohol. More Facts >>
- Have a check-up from a health care provider before getting pregnant. Seek help from a healthcare provider to control any chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, depression etc.) and get them under control before attempting to get pregnant.
- Complete a family medical history and share it with your partner and your health care provider.
- Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure that your prescription medication and/or herbal supplements are safe to use before, during and after pregnancy.
- Avoid exposure to toxic or harmful chemicals/substances at work and at home.
- Protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases or infections
- Protect yourself and your baby against domestic violence.
Getting enough folic acid every day before getting pregnant can prevent up to 70 percent of some types of serious birth defects that affect the baby's brain and spine (Neural Tube Defects). Most common Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) are:
Research shows that most pregnancies affected with an NTD are to women under 30 years old (70%) who have already had at least one healthy pregnancy (70.6 %.)
1 in every 1000 pregnancies are affected with an NTD.
*Important* Folic acid will not prevent all NTDs, so the Utah Birth Defect Network wants to make sure that any child born with an NTD or other birth defect obtains the appropriate medical services.