If you’re thinking about having a baby or have already started trying, you may benefit from preconception care and counseling to ensure your body is ready for pregnancy, identify possible risk factors, and learn the steps to having a healthy pregnancy.
When should you get preconception care?
You can get a preconception checkup any time—even up to a year before you want to get pregnant. Even if you’ve already had a baby, you can still benefit from a preconception checkup as your health may have changed since your previous pregnancy.
If you’ve been trying to have a baby and have been unsuccessful, preconception counseling provides education on healthy lifestyle habits and recommended supplements that can improve your chances of conceiving.
What happens at a preconception visit?
Your health care provider looks for health conditions that may affect your pregnancy and the health of your baby. A risk assessment will find any potential complications of pregnancy. Based on the results, your health care provider may suggest behavioral changes that can help reduce risk factors such as increasing folic acid intake, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and improving diet.
Additionally, your provider may give you a physical exam including a pelvic exam, perform a Pap test, test your blood to check your blood type and Rh factor, and may recommend prenatal genetic screening or a consultation with a genetic counselor.
Key factors to address when trying to become pregnant:
A woman should control her diet and exercise. Starting pregnancy at a healthy weight can reduce the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy, fetal growth anomalies, preterm birth, stillbirth, cesarean section and hemorrhage after delivery.
Taking folic acid, no less than three months before getting pregnant, has been shown to prevent neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida by up to 70%. Folic acid is essential for the development of the baby’s neural tube, part of the nervous system, which forms around the time a woman misses her first menstrual period. It is best to start a prenatal vitamin with folic acid prior to conception.
If a woman can quit smoking before she becomes pregnant, she will improve her likelihood of becoming pregnant. Additionally, she will reduce the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, birth defects, stillbirth, placental abruption, low birth weight, preterm birth, undernutrition, and anemia.
Alcohol and Drugs
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. Drug exposure, including prescription pain killers, in pregnancy, may cause neonatal abstinence syndrome and increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Addiction to alcohol, cannabis, or opioids may lead to miscarriages, birth defects, intrauterine growth restriction, preterm birth, and lifelong learning disabilities.
Why Choose West Des Moines OBGYN for Preconception Care?
At West Des Moines OBGYN, our priority is you and your baby. We will always put your needs first and develop the appropriate care plan for you. Whether you’re trying to become pregnant for the first time or are expecting another child, we are here to help you along the way. Schedule a preconception visit with us and experience the difference.