You’re well aware that once you become pregnant, you’ll have to be extra focused on taking care of yourself and doing what’s right for your health and that of your fetus. However, you might not have realized that there’s even more you can do to make sure your baby arrives in perfect in health and that you are happy and strong throughout gestation. Preconception care is a health plan that focuses on taking steps to improve the health of the man and woman before they conceive. In addition to increasing fertility, preconception care includes steps to make sure the woman is in good health and prepared to comfortably bear a baby for nine months.

If you’re thinking about trying for a baby and are interested in the benefits of preconception care, you should speak with your general practitioner about whether or not he has a plan. Even if he doesn’t, you can develop your own using the proven methods that research has shown.

First, preconception care often includes adjusting your vitamin intakes. Most research shows that a folic acid supplement will assist gestation, and that vitamin A and vitamin D should be limited. A medical screening is also part of a preconception care plan. You and your partner might be screened for diseases such as HIV, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis C and Syphilis.

Additionally, you’ll both be tested for genetic issues such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. Your doctor will also recommend that you stay away from a wide range of environmental toxins known to cause birth defects, such as alcohol, household chemicals, radiation and garden soil. It’s best to ensure that these chemicals are well on their way out of your system prior to conceiving. You’ll also receive a medical assessment that will test you for conditions that could affect your growing baby. Diabetes, depression, and hypertension are all risk factors.

Finally, you’ll undergo a lifestyle assessment where you or your doctor can pinpoint factors that might complicate pregnancy. You’ll be advised to reach a normal weight, make up for any nutritional deficiencies, and get your relationships stabilized to prevent any domestic violence or social issues.

People can get pregnant by surprise and still have a happy and healthy baby. However, if you know you’re trying, you might as well take the proper measures to make sure you’re in good health, and then take proper precautions if you’re not.

Source: Vincenzo Berghella et al: Preconception Care. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey Volume 65 Issue 2 pp. 119-131 February 2010