If you’ve been trying for years to have a baby but are not successful, you may be missing out on something. There are possible reasons why couples can’t have a baby, such as low sperm counts, reproductive system issues, underlying medical problems, etc. But if your doctor confirmed that you don’t have these conditions, you shouldn’t worry.
It’s because you can do something about it without going through expensive and stressful procedures. Unfortunately, individuals are different, so it may take longer for some to conceive. That’s why informative education about fertility is important, in addition to preconception care.
What is Preconception Care?
Preconception care, also known as pre-pregnancy care, is how a couple takes care of their health during their reproductive years. It involves medical experts giving biomedical, social, and behavioral health interventions to improve the health status of a man and a woman. Also, a part of its objectives is to reduce the behavioral and individual environmental factors contributing to poor maternal and child health.
Preconception care is different, depending on the individual’s health and unique needs. In some cases, doctors or other healthcare professionals recommend a course of treatment or follow-up care.
Preconception care includes:
- Physical, medical, and psychological assessment
- Carrier screening and testing
- Counseling ( environmental or occupational exposures, healthy lifestyle, genetic disorders)
- Appropriate genetic conditions treatment
- Fertility course program
- Education ( vitamin supplementation, healthy lifestyle, fertility awareness from a fertility consultant)
Why Preconception Care Is Important When Planning for a Baby
The World Health Organization cites the following as some of the positive outcomes of preconception-care:
1. Prevents Birth Defects
Women increase the chances of having a healthy baby if they adopt a healthy lifestyle while managing health conditions before getting pregnant. This includes avoiding alcohol, smoking, drugs, and medications. Taking vitamins and supplements like folic acid may also be required.
2. Prevents Neonatal Illness
According to studies, some conditions, like STIs (sexually transmitted infections), are linked to neonatal infection. That is why women and their partners are advised to have a screening before pregnancy. In case of positive results, preconception care addresses possible complications.
3. Reduces the Risk of Some Forms of Childhood Cancers
Cancer risk is most severe when the baby is still in the mother’s womb. This is when you have the biggest chance to protect your child. One way to do this is to lead a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy. On top of these, avoid radiation and toxins, do regular exercise, complete required vaccines, and stick to a healthy diet.
4. Lessens Maternal and Child Mortality
Preconception care plays a vital role in improving the health outcomes of the mother and child, including death. If a pregnant woman is sick and left unchecked, suffers from chronic stress, and has limited access to healthy foods, it can lead to complications or maternal and child death.
5. Prevents Complications During Pregnancy and Delivery
One of the objectives of preconception care is to improve pregnancy outcomes by preventing diseases and managing risk factors. A few conditions causing pregnancy complications include diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, anemia, etc. In diabetes, preconception care involves a multidisciplinary team consisting of an internist, diabetologist, or a family physician expert in diabetes.
As part of the team, you may also need an obstetrician knowledgeable about high-risk pregnancy management, a nurse, dietitian, social worker, and other necessary specialists.
6. Prevents Preterm Birth, Low Birth Weight, and Stillbirths
Stillbirth is the death of a baby while in the mother’s womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The reasons could include high blood pressure, placenta or umbilical cord problems, birth defects, infections, or poor lifestyle choices. Whereas preterm birth is when a baby is born earlier than completing 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Improving your health through preconception care before pregnancy minimizes the risks of stillbirths, preterm birth, and low birth weight.
7. Prevents Underweight and Stunting
The impaired development and growth of a child due to repeated infection, poor nutrition, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation is called stunting. According to studies, children of young mothers with repeated pregnancies have higher chances to suffer from stunting.
Preconception care tries to resolve these issues by promoting reproductive planning and preventing unintended or unplanned pregnancies.
Is Preconception Care Necessary for All Women?
All women can benefit from preconception care, whether or not they plan to have a baby someday. Preconception health focuses on women trying to conceive and promotes overall health throughout their lives. Keep in mind that one of the best things you can do to yourself is taking care of your health.
If you want to learn all aspects of fertility and preconception health, there are online courses and training that you can access anywhere you are. Just make sure to check programs that are credible and safe from reliable sources. Click here to know more.