Planning a baby? Have you thought about your preconception health?
Every parent wants a healthy baby. Yet, how many of us spare a thought for the fact that the health of the newborn is tied to the health of the parent, particularly the mother? Preconception care mainly focuses on the things a woman can do in relation to her health to increase the chances of having a healthy baby. The requirements of each woman are different, and particular to her clinical, social and behavioural status.
If you are planning a baby, then it is important to talk to your Doctor and seek her/his advise on preconception care
Preconception Counseling: Who needs it?
- Advised for all women planning a baby – you may not be aware of the existence of any complications in you or your partner that may affect your baby’s health. Your Doctor would know how to identify these problems and deal with them
- Women with previous history of miscarriage
- Women with previous history of complicated/difficult pregnancy
- Women with previous history of diseases that have been successfully treated (like Breast cancer)
- Women with other known medical conditions like Diabetes, Thyroid Disorder, hypertension, seizure disorder, arthritis etc.
- Women who are underweight or overweight
- Women who are habitual smokers, drink alcohol or have a history of drug addiction
- Women who live and work in high stress or abusive environments
- Women with a family history of medical complications (a sister with a heart problem, a brother who is a diabetic, etc.)
Who do you need to go to for Preconception Counseling?
Your Gynaecologist is your first and most important counselor. He/she will speak to you and your partner at length, discuss your medical history, ask you questions about your family’s medical history, examine you and prescribe some tests based on your specific needs. If your test results show no abnormality, then the Doctor would advise you to visit a nutritionist, physical therapist and counselor, who would help you prepare for your pregnancy by recommending the correct diet, exercises and mind training to keep you fit and healthy.
What happens if I have a family history of some disease?
Someone in your family (or that of your partner) – father, mother, sibling or ancestor – may be suffering from or may have suffered from a particular disease. Either of you, in turn, could be carriers of the disease but may not be aware of it. In such an instance your Doctor may refer you to a Genetic Counselor, who would discuss your family’s medical history at length with you and explain the implications to you and your child. He/she may ask you to undergo certain tests which would give you a clear picture of the risks involved and help you in making up your mind, and also prevent future complications.
Will my medical condition affect my pregnancy?
If you are a Diabetic, Hypertensive, or suffer from any other health complications like Epilepsy, Arthritis, Asthma, psoriasis etc, for which you have been under long-term medication, it can affect your pregnancy and the health of your baby. It is important to discuss your situation in detail with your Doctor and plan the baby well in advance to allow him/her to organize your medications and monitor your health before and through your pregnancy. You also need to involve your other treating Doctors – General Physician, Diabetologist, Neurologist or anybody else – in your decision to ensure a safe pregnancy. Choose the healthcare facility with care since you may require multispecialty monitoring and emergency care.
What role does my body weight play in the health of my baby?
If you are overweight then pregnancy can induce complications like high blood pressure, preeclampsia (accumulation of fluid in the body and protein in the urine, along with hypertension) and gestational (through your pregnancy term) diabetes. The size of your baby may also be larger than normal, and there will be increased chances of injury at birth. On the other hand, if you are underweight then your baby is likely to be too small and may suffer from health and behavioural issues as he/she is growing up. The risk of preterm birth is also greater if you are underweight.
In either scenario, it is important to take your Doctor’s advice when you are planning for your baby, so that he/she, along with a team of physiotherapist and nutritionist, can guide you in loosing or gaining weight, and monitor you through your pregnancy.
How does my lifestyle affect my pregnancy or the health of my baby?
If you are smoker, drink alcohol or have a past history of drug addiction, then not only can it increase the risk to your health during your pregnancy, it can also impact the health of your baby. You shall need to undergo some lifestyle changes when you are planning a baby, and you Doctor is the best person to advise you on that. Another factor that has become important now is the age of the mother, with more women opting for late pregnancies. Lifestyle issues can impact a woman’s physical and mental health, and preconception care can be a big help in dealing with both.
How does my environment affect my pregnancy?
Stress at home and at workplace (in case of working women) plays a major role in the health and safety of your pregnancy. Stress releases hormones that may make you depressed, hyperactive and sometimes prone to panic attacks. Research is increasingly linking a mother’s mental health during pregnancy with her child’s behavioural issues later in life. Sudden high stress situations during pregnancy can lead to preterm births. Pregnancy itself can be a reason for depression in women that often goes unnoticed by her and her family. It is important to discuss abnormal situations brought on by stress with your doctor. Preconception counseling helps in understanding not just your nutritional, but also your psychological needs. It helps in coping with depression and high stress situations better.
At Medica we believe in one-stop solutions. Our Preconception Clinic provides comprehensive services including facilities for extensive sessions with our Obstetrics & Gynaecology specialists, Genetic Counselor, Physical Therapist specializing in pre-natal care, Nutritionist and Psychologist. Our diagnostic services include the most advanced lab (including Genetic testing) and imaging facilities.