There are many important steps that a couple needs to take when getting ready to conceive a child. It is very important that both partners are prepared both physically and emotionally for this life-enhancing event.
Caring for your health before you become pregnant is good for you and your baby. This is called Pre Pregnancy care. The first step is to inform your regular Obstetrician/Gynaecologist that you are ready to talk about getting pregnant and you would like to schedule an appointment for pre-pregnancy counselling. At the appointment, your doctor will probably have a routine set of questions and tests that they give to a couple preparing for pregnancy. Which may include:
- Clinical assessment
The clinical examination includes blood pressure, weight, auscultation of heart sounds, and where relevant breast examination and pap smear.
- Medical history
An assessment of any medical problems and a discussion of how they may affect a pregnancy.
- Past obstetric history
An assessment of the outcomes of any previous pregnancies (e.g. pregnancy loss, preterm birth, birth defects, gestational diabetes) to determine whether any measures could reduce the recurrence risk.
- Genetic / Family history
If there high risk of a chromosomal or genetic disorder based on the family history or ethnic, pre-pregnancy genetic testing and counselling is recommended
- Medication use
To review all current medications including over the counter medicines, with regard to their appropriateness and teratogenic potential.
Women considering a pregnancy should be aware of her vaccination status
- Lifestyle changes
Healthy weight / nutrition / exercise
A healthy, well balanced diet is strongly recommended before, during and after pregnancy.
Folic acid should be taken for a minimum of three month before conception and for the first 3 months of pregnancy
Smoking, alcohol and illegal drug cessation
Cigarette smoking and illegal drug use during pregnancy can have serious consequences for an unborn child and should be stopped before conception
- Healthy environment
Assessment of the risk of exposure to toxins or radiation in the household, work place or at recreational activity and discussion to minimise the exposure is worthwhile.
The goal is to check for any potential risks to you and your baby during pregnancy — and to address any medical issues you may have before you get pregnant. It’s about becoming your healthiest self — physically and emotionally — before you take that next step into pregnancy.
A large number of pregnancies are unplanned which means that many opportunities for pre-pregnancy counselling are missed. Pre-pregnancy counselling is also relevant to men. Their lifestyle and health may also affect pregnancy outcome. Any couple being referred for infertility assessment should have had a full pre-conception assessment prior to further investigation or treatment. Pre Pregnancy care is distinct from antenatal care. It should include:
- Informed choice, which helps women and men to understand health issues that may affect conception and pregnancy.
- Women and their partners being encouraged to prepare actively for pregnancy, and be as healthy as possible.
- Identifying couples who are at increased risk of having babies with a genetic malformation. Provide them with sufficient knowledge to make informed decisions