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Important: Preconception Counseling

by Kimberly Hays January 25th, 2019 | Health Observance
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babyWe all know the importance of taking good care of our bodies after finding out we are pregnant. We do this by eating well, and by taking vitamins and seeing our doctor regularly. With one baby out of every 33 in the United States being born with birth defects, doctors are now trying to lower those numbers by recommending steps for prevention that start prior to conceiving.

Preconception counseling is suggested when thinking about getting pregnant. Your doctor can make suggestions to lower the risk of birth defects. There are many infections that can cause birth defects, and they are preventable by getting the necessary vaccines. You need to have these vaccines prior to your pregnancy, because after you become pregnant, you will not be able to have them. Keep in mind to use good hygiene habits to keep infection risk low.

Before becoming pregnant, you will want to make adjustments to over-the-counter and prescribed medications that may be dangerous. Your doctor can make these adjustments beforehand, so there will not be a risk of an unsafe medication being taken before your pregnancy is confirmed.

Certainly you should not smoke when planning to become pregnant. Be sure to avoid situations where you are exposed to secondhand smoke as well. Secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), miscarriage, low birth weight, and other birth defects. This should be addressed if anyone in the household smokes prior to becoming pregnant.

Another important issue to discuss with your doctor is weight. A healthy weight before becoming pregnant and maintaining it throughout pregnancy is essential to the health of both the mother and the baby. Being too heavy or being underweight can cause complications with the pregnancy, as well as with the delivery.

There are several other factors that your doctor will discuss with you during preconception counseling to reduce the chance of birth defects. If you did not obtain preconception counseling before becoming pregnant, you should contact your doctor as soon as you know that you are. There are many steps that you can take throughout pregnancy that will also help to lower the risk of birth defects, and the sooner you have the conversation with your doctor, the better.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.