Before a woman starts thinking about baby names or colors for the nursery, she needs to consider one very important factor - her health. The state of a woman's overall health before she becomes pregnant can have a significant impact on the health of her baby. In fact, the health of her partner can also affect fertility and the baby's health.
Any health concerns can be discussed with your health care provider during a visit. Ideally, a couple should start to plan for a pregnancy at least four months prior to conception. It is important to focus on the health of a woman before conception in order to ensure the woman has the best health possible for conception. With planning, a woman is better able to improve her ability to give birth to a healthy baby and minimize or identify any potential risks. Family planning is the best way to ensure mother and baby have the healthiest journey through conception, birth and growth.
The following are family planning topics that a woman and her partner might discuss with their health care provider:
Medical history: Does the woman have a history of any chronic illness such as diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure? A visit with a health care provider can identify and in some cases correct health problems. She should also find out if her immunizations are up to date. Contagious diseases such as chicken pox and German measles can be dangerous to an unborn child.
Diet: Is the woman at a healthy weight? Pregnancy is not the time to adopt a calorie restricted diet. A balanced diet that includes a variety of food groups helps supply the essential nutrients crucial to fetal development. A supplement formulated for pregnancy that includes folic acid may be recommended to help prevent neural tube defects, a serious birth defect.
Emotional support: What kind of relationships does a woman have with her partner, family and friends? Is she in a kind and supportive environment? Financial difficulties, instability in relationships and other circumstances can create an overly stressful and unhealthy environment for a woman. It is important to create a safe, stable and loving home for raising a child.
Work environment: Is the woman or her partner exposed to any workplace hazards? Reproductive health can be compromised by toxic chemicals and other compounds used in certain industries. Health care workers and women who work with children or animals may risk exposure to viruses and other disease causing organisms. Radiation from X-rays should also be avoided.
Lifestyle: What are the personal habits of both partners? Research shows there is a link between smoking and second-hand smoke to health issues in children. Research also suggests that smoking may lower a man's sperm count. Women are also strongly urged not use any recreational drugs or alcohol during their pregnancy.
Genetics: Does the woman, her partner or any of their close relatives have any genetic diseases or birth defects? New research into the makeup of genes has opened up possibilities for the detection and treatment of genetic disorders. If there are questions or the potential for genetic defects, the couple may be asked to see a genetic counselor.
These are only a few possible areas to consider in planning ahead for a healthy baby. For more information, call 1-800-BASSETT (1-800-227-7388).