Most of us don’t realise that adequate care before conception can have a positive impact on the health of both the mother and baby. Our health as adults majorly depends on the way we were nourished in our mother’s womb. Hence, it is very important to seek information on proper health care before trying to conceive a baby. Preconception care helps you prepare mentally and physically for pregnancy and parenthood.
Objective of Preconception Care
The sole objective of preconception care is to prepare the body for hormonal changes, pregnancy, and birth. Taking care before conceiving improves your chances of getting pregnant, maintains a healthy pregnancy, supports healthy baby development, and helps in recovery after birth.
Nutritional supplements before conception
Your doctor will prescribe several nutritional supplements if you are planning to get pregnant. The universally recommended supplement is folic acid. Folic acid is required for healthy growth and development of the baby in the womb. Folic acid is known to reduce neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. The recommended dosage of folic acid is about 500mg a day. It is advised to be taken before conception and until 3 months of pregnancy.
Other nutritional supplements can include zinc, iron, calcium, and a multi-vitamin. Apart from these nutritional supplements, your doctor will also advise you to eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
Tests recommended before conception
If you are planning to get pregnant, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor. Your doctor will take down your medical history, family history, background, and prescribe certain tests and procedures to get you started. Some of the tests recommended are
1} Blood tests (full blood count and ferritin levels)
2} Tests to check immunity against rubella
3} Urine tests to check for protein, glucose, and infections
4} Blood pressure check
5} Dental check up
6} Pap smear if required
Simple tips to improve health before conception
1} Drink plenty of water
2} Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet
3} Quit smoking and alcohol
4} Reduce caffeine intake
5} Take nutritional supplements regularly
6} Maintain a healthy weight and BMI
7} Exercise regularly
8} Avoid taking over the counter medications unless prescribed by the doctor
9} Avoid contacts with pesticides and chemicals
10} Avoid overheating activities like saunas and spas
11} Reduce stress and practice meditation techniques
12} Visit a healthcare practitioner before conception
Preconception care for men
Good health has the same fertility impact on both men and women. It is very important that men also take care of themselves before the couple try to conceive. Since men contribute half the genetic material to make a baby, preconception care is equally important for men. Since sperms take about 3 months to develop before being able to fertilise the egg, it is ideal that men start practising preconception care at least 3 to 6 months prior to conception.
Starting preconception care early and at the right time is advisable. Good preconception care will help you have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Soon after you get pregnant, continue to maintain the same healthy habits and see your doctor regularly for prenatal care.