Pre-Conception Do’s & Don’ts

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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First-time expectant mothers are not really aware of the Pre-Conception Do’s and Dont’s perhaps because they are totally unaware of them or they choose to ignore them. There is also another set of people who believe in several myths. This article will discuss important pre-conception counseling and related content such as diet and supplements, genetic diseases and infections, exercises, yoga, smoking, and alcohol, among others.

The article also discusses pre-conception medical counseling. This information is very useful for women who are planning on having a baby, as it facilitates their decision for conceiving in the future.

Pre-Conception Health Care

Pre-conception health care is required for assessing the risks during pregnancy and reducing them through medical supervision and mental support. Visit your health care provider once you have decided to have a baby. This may help you with pre-pregnancy or pre-conception care, as well as any tests that are required. The following health issues are addressed when you visit the health care provider.

Past Medical History

Some women have past medical history or they are still suffering from diseases, such as thyroid, diabetes, seizure disorders, high blood pressure, inherited diseases, placental abruption (pre-eclampsia), cardiac disease, and renal disease. Your health care provider would like to modify the treatment before pregnancy or prescribe the medicine that is safe for the baby.

History of Earlier Pregnancies

This history includes details of any previous pregnancies, menstrual cycle, your use of contraceptives, the results of previous Pap test, and information regarding any STIs (sexually transmitted infections), or vaginal infections in the past.

Medication

Currently, if you are on some type of medication, please provide the details to your health care provider. Also, in case you are allergic to any medicines, be sure to provide the details. Also, inform your health care provider about any supplements or herbal medicines that you are taking. Sharing all their details could help to prevent any birth-related defect in the baby.

Surgical or Hospitalization Record

In case you have been hospitalized or have undergone surgery or transfusions, you need to inform your health care provider during your visit.

A pregnant woman standing next to table which has fresh fruits and a jar filled with cut fruits on it

Exercise or Yoga

Normally, you may continue your exercise or yoga till you get pregnant. You may be advised by your health care provider to modify or decrease the exercise or yoga. Inform them if you do or do not work out.

Weight-Related Issues

Before getting pregnant, it is advised to achieve your ideal body weight according to your height. Also, it is important to remain physically active. In case you are underweight, try to gain weight before getting pregnant. This would reduce the risk of delivering an underweight baby. In case you are overweight, try reducing your weight before getting pregnant, as this might increase the complications linked with high blood pressure.

Family History

Inform your health care provider about any medical history prevailing in your family. Also, inform them if you or your partner were twins.

Dietary Concerns

Check with your health care provider about the ideal diet for getting pregnant. Although there is not much to change if you already have healthy eating habits. However, food varieties should involve lots of calcium, folic acid, fiber, and other essential nutrients.

Supplements

Folic acid supplements are required to avoid NTD (Neural Tube Defects) such as spina bifida in the baby. NTD’s develop in the first 28 days after conception before many women even know that they are pregnant. Therefore, women planning to conceive should start folic acid supplements three months before conception. This supplement is also taken during pregnancy. Your health care provider would recommend 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily. Although to figure out the right amount of multi-vitamin required for you, please consult your health care provider.

Drinking Water

Drinking water should be safe. Do not consume water taken from wells, as it might contain high levels of nitrate.

Dental Check-up

Before you decide to get pregnant, get a dental check-up done as you require any filling or dental x-rays that may not be safe after you conceive.

Tests and Physical Examination

It is suggested to undergo the tests and physical examination as advised by the health care provider. This would ensure that you remain healthy during the pre-conception stage. Taking care of your health before conception is not only good for you, but also for your baby.

Laboratory Tests

Your health care provider would advise you to undergo tests of hepatitis, thyroid, HIV, rubella, and syphilis.

Menstrual Cycle

The health care provider would like to discuss your menstrual cycle in order to determine the most fertile period when the chances to get pregnant are high.

Vaccination

If you are not already vaccinated for chickenpox or rubella, then your health care provider would recommend you to get the vaccination and then try to conceive, even though this requires delaying your attempt to conceive for one to three months after you are vaccinated. There have been instances where, during early pregnancy, exposure to rubella has harmed the baby.

Dos & don'ts for pre-conception health care - infographicPhysical Examination

Physical examinations are done in order to rule out any health problems related to the lungs, abdomen, heart, thyroid, and breasts. Your health care provider may also like to examine the pelvic region and perform a Pap smear.

Genetic Problems

It is a good idea to discuss any genetic problems prevailing in your family with your health care provider. This could reduce the chances of birth defects, intellectual disability, formerly known as mental retardation, or other genetic problems in the baby. Also, get yourself and your partner screened for any genetic problems.

Other Tests

You can also opt for testing for STIs (sexually transmitted infections) for yourself in case you have such symptoms or your partner’s if you are not sure about his sexual history.

Dont’s

For optimal health during pregnancy, it is important that you remain healthy during the pre-conception period. Following are the pre-conception “Don’ts” which women planning to get pregnant should strictly follow:

Environment

You should be cautious about the environment around you. For instance, do not expose yourself to X-rays, CT scan, lead, any kind of solvents, cat feces, and metal detector machines (usually in shopping malls, office campus, and airports, inform the security personnel about your pregnancy). Your exposure to these could be hazardous. It could adversely affect your ability to become pregnant or maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Lifestyle

In some cases, your lifestyle is a matter of great concern. If you or your partner have any habits that might influence pregnancy, such as drinking alcoholic beverages (including beer, wine, and hard liquor), smoking or consuming drugs, then you are advised to stop them. This might create a hindrance for a healthy pregnancy.

Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is present in tea, coffee, chocolates, aerated drinks, and some medications. Women planning to get pregnant should not consume more than 300 milligrams (mg) caffeine per day that is about two cups of coffee (cup measure 8 ounces).

Pre-conception care and counseling are of utmost importance. It makes women more informed about the “do’s” and “don’ts” before getting pregnant. Also, it prepares women both emotionally and physically to enter the next exciting phase of their life.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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