It is important for every woman to take care of their health even if they are not planning pregnancy, considering that your lifestyle right now can affect you and your baby in case you do get pregnant in the future.
Unplanned pregnancy is linked with higher preterm birth and lower birth weight babies along with many other pregnancy complications, this is why it is important to get preconception counseling before you try to get pregnant.
What happens during preconception counseling appointments?
During preconception counseling, the healthcare services provider can order a bunch of tests so they can figure out what’s happening within your body or if your body is ready for pregnancy.
The tests include:
- Physical exam
- Check your heart
- Lung exam
- Breast exam for breast cancer
- Thyroid exam
- Ultrasounds for your abdomen
- Pelvic exam
- Blood pressure
- Recording your weight
- Lab tests for rubella
- Lab tests for hepatitis
- Complete blood count
- Pap smear
- Diabetes screening
- Testing for thyroid issues
- Testing for HIV
What could the counseling recommend for you?
Depending on the test results, your age, your fertility rate, and many other things, the counseling session can either tell you that you are good to go for pregnancy or can tell you to make lifestyle changes first before you try for a baby.
Remember, preconception care is important before you get pregnant. This is why your health care provider can help you recommend the following things:
- Maintaining your blood pressure
- Having normal diabetes
- Increasing the amount of folic acid
- Getting up to date on vaccines
- Stop liquor intake
- Stop taking drugs
- Stop smoking
- Have a healthy weight
Remember, the better your health, the better chances you are going to have to get pregnant.
Important for babies
Preconception health is a precious gift to babies, considering that it means their parents took important steps to get healthy, meaning, their body is ready to physically carry a baby for 9 long months. Remember, babies that are born to parents that took preconception care are less likely to be born early and are unlikely to have a low birth weight
Babies are also more likely to be born without any birth defects or any other conditions that might lead them to get the term “disabled”.
Facts about preconception care:
- reduce maternal and child mortality
- prevent unintended pregnancies
- prevent complications during pregnancy and delivery
- prevent stillbirths, preterm birth, and low birth weight
- prevent birth defects
- prevent neonatal infections
- prevent underweight and stunting
- prevent vertical transmission of HIV/STIs
- lower the risk of some forms of childhood cancers
- lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life