The Preconception Visit
Taking Charge Of Your Health
A healthy pregnancy begins before conception. Once a couple has decided to start a family, it is a smart first step to plan a preconception visit to the OB/GYN. Since 1989, when it was formally introduced as a recommendation by a federal panel of experts from the US Department of Health and Human Services, preconception visits have taken hold. It proves that women today are taking charge of their own health and the health of their yet-to-be-born children.
The basic idea of a preconception visit is to form an alliance between the couple and the doctor. Together they will work to design a program that will enhance a quick and easy conception. The hope is that the couple will experience a healthy pregnancy and risks of miscarriage and birth defects will be minimized.
The Importance Of Family And Personal Medical History
It is important for the doctor to get a good picture of the health of both the mother and father. This helps to ensure both partners are physically ready for pregnancy and that the baby will be as healthy as possible. The subject of reproductive health is discussed-has the father produced other children, and has he produced children with birth defects. Chronic diseases, hereditary illnesses and conditions, and other familial issues will be talked about. It is important for the doctor to know if such conditions as high blood pressure, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or mental retardation are present in either family. In addition, hereditary diseases such as sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease or Thalassemia need to be revealed in order to provide maximum care when the baby is born.
A complete personal medical history is taken from both perspective parents in relation to diseases, conditions, or infections that can affect fertility. The doctor will ask about such STDs as gonorrhea, syphilis and genital herpes and infections of the reproductive tract such as PID. Diseases such as heart disease, epilepsy, German measles, mumps and chronic health conditions like arthritis, colitis, and weight problems are all part of the medical history.
Lifestyle Makes A Big Difference To Conception
Once family history and personal medical health issues are covered, the doctor will ask questions about lifestyle, since it has a profound impact upon conception. Where a person lives and works as well as how they spend their leisure time, may affect conception and pregnancy. If either partner works with radioactive material or in a toxic environment, fertility can be affected. The use of recreational drugs, alcohol, smoking, coffee, and even owning a cat (because of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection), may all cause infertility or challenges in conceiving.
Other Issues To Address
If either partner is taking medication for any type of condition, it is wise to consult with the doctor to see if it would be problematic. If so, a revision of the medications may be in order. If either perspective parent is overweight, it may be advisable to lose weight before trying to conceive.
Planning the pregnancy is one of the best gifts a couple can give themselves and their baby. By actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition and removing potential harm from their lives before conceiving, a couple can increase their chances for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.