If you are preparing to get pregnant, it is essential to take special care of yourself for the health of you and your baby. Pre-pregnancy care focuses on improving your health before getting pregnant to increase the chances of having a healthy baby. The purpose of preconception care is to assess any potential risks to you and your baby and to treat any medical conditions you may have before conceiving.
Three important things you need to know when trying to get pregnant are:
- Visit your doctor: Make an appointment with your doctor when you are planning for pregnancy. During your appointment, your doctor performs physical examination and asks you about your medical history (conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure and heart diseases, etc. and medications), reproductive history, vaccination status, diet, lifestyle and other habits. Getting the right advice and following the instructions of your doctor helps you to get ready for a healthy conception and baby.
Don’t hesitate to discuss with your doctor all of your concerns regarding pregnancy and any other health related issues. Your physician may order certain blood tests (full blood parameters, iron and ferritin levels), and urine tests (for sugar, protein, infection) to check your health condition.
- Avoid caffeine, smoking, drinking alcohol and habit-forming drugs: Smoking, use of drugs and drinking alcohol can make it difficult for you to conceive and increases your chances of miscarriage. They can also affect your baby’s health in the long term. Excessive use of caffeine, found in coffee and soda, are also harmful for your pregnancy. It is advised not to take medicines and supplements without your doctor’s consent.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight: Include vegetables, fruits, dairy products and whole grains into your diet. Folic acid is a universal supplement of the vitamin B group required for healthy growth and development of a baby in the initial weeks of life. Taking the recommended 400-800mg/day of folic acid at least one month before pregnancy and for the first three months after conceiving reduces birth defects such as spina bifida (spinal cord abnormality).
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of medical complications such as elevated blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Being underweight may decrease the chances of becoming pregnant, and having a low birth baby and problems during labor. Eating well and regular exercise helps you to maintain an ideal weight and is beneficial for you and your baby’s health.