If you want to optimize your chances of having a complication-free pregnancy and a healthy baby, you should start getting in shape before you even get pregnant!
Having an obstetrician follow her pregnancy has become an essential part of a modern woman’s pregnancy, and one an expecting mother would not do without. However, few mothers-to-be actually know they should start thinking about their health even before conceiving. Although most women know they will have to take prenatal vitamins, quit smoking, and stop drinking alcohol when they are pregnant, many do not know they should be doing so before they become pregnant.
Experts now recommend that a woman who wants to conceive has at least one pre-pregnancy visit with her physician, that is to say once she decides to have a child but before she tries to conceive. Here are five points to be discussed with your physician during a pre-pregnancy visit:
- Taking folic acid daily, starting at least three months before getting pregnant, to reduce the risk of certain birth defects, such as neural tube defects like spina bifida;
- Stopping smoking and consuming alcohol before conceiving;
- Managing chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy and lupus, and making sure you are up to date in your vaccination calendar;
- The analysis of all over-the-counter and prescription medications, vitamins, dietary and herbal supplements, to determine if some of them may have an impact on your chances of conceiving, or if they can affect foetal development;
- Precautionary measures you can take to avoid being exposed to toxic and potentially infectious substances such as chemicals, cat and rodent feces, at home and in the workplace.
Women who suffer from a chronic disease, such as diabetes or lupus, should make sure their condition is well managed before getting pregnant because the physiological upheaval of pregnancy can easily destabilize their condition. Furthermore, certain diseases the mother has can directly impact the development of the foetus; the same being true with certain medications. For these reasons, women who plan to conceive should visit their physician when they decide to have a child, particularly if they suffer from a chronic disease. This will ensure they have all the necessary information and recommendations needed to make this wonderful adventure as positive as it can be!