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Preconception Care

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When we think of starting or growing a family, we often think of our finances, getting on the wait list for that coveted day care with the four-year wait or our career trajectory. But, what about optimizing health before pregnancy?

A large proportion of pregnancies are unplanned and women often arrive to care later in pregnancy. The ideal time to pay attention to your health is long before you plan to get pregnant. Regular prenatal care reduces many poor pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight as well as maternal and infant mortality.  A woman’s health before pregnancy has a profound impact on its outcome. Pay attention to some key areas when planning a preconception care visit.   

  1. Infections: Treating women who are HIV positive around delivery can reduce the risk of babies being infected. German measles (rubella) and chicken pox exposure in pregnancy can have dire consequences to baby so knowing if you’re immune and getting immunized can help prevent these consequences.
  2. nutrition: Using folic acid at least six weeks before conception can reduce the risk of spinal tube defects. Iron deficiency in moms can impact babies’ growth. Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can help with brain development.
  3. Exposures: Think as if you’re pregnant once you start planning a pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about smoking, alcohol and recreational drug use.
  4. Chronic illness: Women with diabetes, high blood pressure, seizure disorders, depression or any chronic illness need to plan how to best keep themselves and their babies healthy by examining the effects of the illness and their medications before a pregnancy.

 

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!

 

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