Preconception Care - A guide to a healthy pregnancy

by Dr. N Sapna Lulla

Thinking of extending your family is a wonderful phrase that is filled with happiness and anxiety. If you are planning to have a child or maybe just contemplating it, it is never too early to start reading about it.

A healthy mother ensures a healthy pregnancy and preconception care focuses on the overall healthcare of the mother before and between pregnancies can increase the chances of having a healthy baby. A lot of women face challenges when they are preparing their bodies for pregnancy, for some it might take months and for others, maybe even longer. No matter if this is your first child, second or even sixth, the preconception period presents the opportunity for intervention. Here, men and women can adopt a few healthy behaviour traits that will lead to a successful pregnancy and a positive outcome.

Why is preconception care significant? 

As half of all pregnancies are unplanned, therefore several mothers are at a greater risk of preterm births and low birth weight babies. Due to this, preconception care becomes essential as counselling gives parents the best chance for a healthy start for their child and ensures a better quality of life for both the mother and the child in the coming years. 

Benefits of Preconception care 

Preconception counselling could start in-office patient rooms with assessing pregnancy intentions and introducing the importance of pregnancy planning. During this time, the goal of preconception care should be health education and promotion and risk assessment and intervention before pregnancy to drive to a positive outcome.

Preconception care helps in addressing the following issues -  

  1. Identify and treat risk factors - This includes reviewing a thorough history of medical/surgical/genetic/psychosocial/ nutrition and behavioural risks. 
  2. Conceive a pregnancy without risk factors - Identifies any pre-existing medical conditions/ screening for STD/ oral hygiene/ genetic disorders 
  3. Prepare couples psychologically 
  4. Establish lifestyle behaviours - Couples with behavioural health issues can be counselled on the same and any change intended could be discussed at length. 
  5. Provide information necessary for informed decisions for future conception. This is also accompanied by carrier screening and reproductive options with emotional counselling without any bias 

During these sessions, the caregivers should emphasize the vaccination of the family members. 
Education through preconception care also benefits every individual as it informs them about pregnancy readiness while planning for future childbearing years and leads to better preparedness for the entire family. Additionally, age-appropriate guidelines assist couples in striking a balance. During these sessions, family members must also be taught about unplanned or unintended pregnancy delays and prenatal care that subsequently contributes to adverse outcomes. Lastly, youngsters should be educated about a delay in sexuality, pregnancy prevention and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. 
While planning a pregnancy, a preconception appointment should always be first on your list as it gives you the control to choose healthy habits. Couples must get the opportunity to pick the time when they are ready to reproduce. One of the best obstetrician & gynaecologist in Bangalore can help you to assess your health, fitness, lifestyle and identify the areas of your life that need to be improved.