Women's Wellness August 2009
Preconception Health and Pregnancy
We make sure our cars are ready for long road trips; our bodies are no different, except in importance. Months before you even consider having a baby make sure to visit with your doctor and go over “pre-trip” planning and what you will need to know during pregnancy as well as once the baby is born.
Important issues your doctor will discuss with you include lifestyle, special concerns, your health, and the environment in which you live. Your eating habits, use of vitamins and nutrients, and your current exercise routine will also be addressed. These are important because if you have any deficiencies, it’s not only you that will be affected but also your baby.
If you are overweight, diabetes and/or high blood pressure can be significant risks. Also, if you aren’t consuming enough calories—on average, women should get 2,000 calories per day—being underweight can make it more difficult to conceive. It’s not just enough to get the calories, but making sure they are the right foods—vitamins and supplements are a must for every woman. Folic acid is especially crucial before and during pregnancy as well as while nursing in order to reduce your baby’s chances of developing anencephaly, the underdevelopment of the brain, or spina bifida, where the spine’s bones don’t form adequately around the spinal cord.
If you are still at the point where you are trying to conceive, the old-fashioned way should be your first route. This means just keeping track of your menstrual cycle each month. Starting with day 1 of your menstrual cycle, count ahead 14 days later to when ovulation is likely to start, if you have a consistent 28-day cycle. Drinking alcohol, smoking, and taking certain medicines can decrease your chances of getting pregnant or harm the baby if you are, in fact, pregnant but just not aware of it yet. If you avoid these things and stay healthy, conception should occur within one year. Should you or your partner suspect you may be infertile, seeing a doctor who specializes in fertility issues may be your best bet.
Every year, more newborn babies are welcomed into the world by the caring professionals at Crozer-ChesterMedical Center and Delaware County Memorial Hospital than by any other health system in Delaware County. For more information about Crozer-Keystone Health System’s Maternity Services or for a referral to a CKHS physician or midwife, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258). You may also visit http://4Ubaby.crozer.org for more information or to view interactive guides to maternity care.
Reviewed by Guy Hewlett, M.D., Crozer-Chester MedicalCenter obstetrician/gynecologist with Suburban OB-GYN. Office location in Upland, Pa., (610) 447-7610.