What is preconception health?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) preconception health refers to the health of women and men during their reproductive years, which are the years they can have a child. Preconception health focuses on taking steps to protect their and their child's health whom they might have some time in the future.
What is preconception care?
Preconception care during the pre-trimester is a growing field with the goal of improving the health of both women and men before pregnancy. Preconception or periconception care can have a significant impact on your and your baby's health.
Preconception counseling usually consists of an assessment of the health of both potential parents, though a greater emphasis is usually placed on the mother.
This targeted care involves several steps and often starts with meeting with a doctor or another healthcare provider who is experienced in this specialty. The preconception interview will help you identify any existing medical or lifestyle issues.
It is an organized and interactive program that identifies and reduces a woman's reproductive risks before and around the time of conception through risk assessment, health promotion, and interventions.
Goals of preconception health counseling
Preconception counseling includes a thorough personal, medical, and family history of the potential mom and dad, review of prior pregnancy problems, a physical exam of the mother including a Pap and other tests, and physical exam of the father, if indicated.
Blood samples and other tests of both parents if indicated (for example, HIV, infectious diseases, genetic predisposition). In general, preconception counseling usually consists of an assessment of the health of both potential parents, though a greater emphasis is usually placed on that of the mother.
- Help you get pregnant
- Decrease the risk of a pregnancy loss
- Decrease the chance of birth defects
- Identify existing medical conditions that might affect your pregnancy
- Decrease any negative effects of pre-existing medical conditions
- Identifying medications that might possibly affect the fetus and changing them to safer ones
- Discuss the findings and your lifestyle
Here are some real examples showing how preconception care might lead you to make small changes to your regular daily life which will result in bigger, positive changes to your impending pregnancy:
- Taking folic acid before and during the first months of pregnancy has been shown to significantly decrease certain birth defects.
- Stopping smoking before pregnancy will improve your chances of getting pregnant and decrease certain adverse effects on the fetus.
- Doing a mammogram before pregnancy, if you need one, is safer and more sensitive.
- Changing certain high blood pressure pills to safer ones improves the baby's health.
- Taking small amounts of aspirin before and early in pregnancy might prevent miscarriages in women with certain conditions.