What is Preconception Care?
Once you are pregnant, your whole life changes and it may never be the same again. Pregnancy requires lots of adjustments in your personal and professional life. So it is better to plan ahead and be prepared.
Preconception is the time when you as a couple have decided to start planning a pregnancy. A routine health checkup is really important at this time as an important problem can be diagnosed and corrected before you get pregnant. Improving your preconception health can improve your chances of getting pregnant, having a healthier pregnancy and having a healthy baby. Schedule a visit with your doctor for a Preventive health checkup and screening.
The preconception preventive health check up includes the following tests:
- Weight– Both being underweight and overweight can have harmful effects during pregnancy. So the doctor will check your weight and tell you the appropriate weight for your height.
- Blood tests– The following blood tests will be done.
- Blood grouping- If you are RH negative and your husband’s blood group is Rh positive, then you will require some additional tests and injections during your pregnancy.
- Hb Electrophoresis to rule out Thalassaemia.
- Complete Blood Count: To check hemoglobin and other blood cell indices. If you are anemic, the doctor will prescribe iron supplements.
- Serum TSH: To rule out subclinical Hypothyroidism.
- HIV: To rule out AIDS in husband and wife.
- VDRL: To rule out Syphilis in husband and wife.
- HBsAg: To rule out Hepatitis B in husband and wife.
- Rubella IgM and IgG: This test is to check the antibody against a viral infection called German measles. If the antibodies are found to be negative, vaccination against rubella can be provided. Protection against this infection is important as it may cause serious birth defects in the baby like deafness (most common) and defects involving brain, eyes, and heart.
- Varicella IgG: This test is used to check the antibodies against Varicella that is commonly known as chicken pox. Vaccination can be provided before pregnancy if the antibodies are found to be absent. This will protect the baby from congenital varicella syndrome ( affected newborns may have a low birth weight and characteristic abnormalities of the skin, brain, eyes, the arms, legs, hands, and/or feet) if chicken pox occurs during pregnancy.
- Urine microscopy and culture: To rule out infection in the urinary tract.
- Folic Acid– The doctor will prescribe your folic acid daily before conception and to be continued during the first three months of pregnancy. This vitamin is required for the proper development of the brain and spine of your baby. By the time you miss your periods and come to know you are pregnant, the baby’s organs have already formed. So you need to start folic acid beforehand as you don’t know which cycle you will conceive.
- Pre-existing diseases-If you have a medical condition like diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism, etc. make sure it is under control.
- Genetic screening-If you have a past history of pregnancy losses or child with a genetic disorder or if you have a family history of a genetic disease, birth defects, chromosomal disorder, consider genetic disease screening.
- Medicines- Medicines you are taking even if herbal or supplements should not be taken without the advice of your doctor.
- Improve your health by maintaining proper body weight, healthy diet, adequate physical activity and taking care of your teeth and gums.
- Professional life– Check maternity related policies of your company, provision of urgent leaves, less strenuous work etc.
- Finances– Pregnancy and newborn baby can be a major strain on your finances. So start saving, with a sufficient reserve for expenditure on unanticipated complications.
If you plan your pregnancy properly, it can be a much more pleasant experience.