Preconception Care- Planning for a Safe Pregnancy – Dr Vaishali Chavan

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Preconception Care- Planning for a Safe Pregnancy – Dr Vaishali Chavan

Pregnancy and Motherhood is a beautiful experience. Preparing for pregnancy and being in the best possible health before conception ensures a healthy and normal pregnancy and improves reproductive outcomes 

Preconception health is a woman’s health before she becomes pregnant. It means knowing how health conditions and risk factors could affect a woman or her unborn baby if she becomes pregnant.

Preconception  Care and counselling involve health-promoting education and guidance before conceiving that helps to have a healthy, safe and complications-free Pregnancy. 

As per WHO Preconception care is a set of interventions to be provided before pregnancy, to promote the health and well-being of women and couples, and to improve the pregnancy and child health outcomes. 

In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that preconception care is relevant for all women of reproductive age

Adolescence is a natural extension of the pre-pregnancy phase of the life

Counselling the adolescent population is an excellent opportunity to promote the adoption of healthy behaviours and to ensure health during adolescence, adulthood and later life. 

key part of preconception care involves screening tests to rule out  certain conditions like 

  • High blood pressure 
  • Diabetes 
  • Thyroid problems
  • Anaemia
  • Heart disease, Renal disease, Liver disease
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Genetic disorders
  • Investigating for Haematological disorders eg testing for Thalassemia carrier
  • Mental or cognitive disorders

Folic acid supplementation-

It is advisable to take a daily supplement (prenatal or multivitamin) of 400-800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid and consume a balanced, healthy diet of folate-rich foods. Folic acid supplementation starting before conception and continuing through 12 weeks of pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs), such as anencephaly, spina bifida, and encephalocele

  Other important recommendations are

    Planning pregnancy at the right age, teenage pregnancies and pregnancy at older ages are associated with more complications 

  • Maintaining healthy and average weight and BMI 
  • A balanced diet and water intake
  •   Nutritional supplements 
  •   To Avoid caffeine
  •   To Avoid alcohol, smoking 
  • Managing underlying diseases like hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disorders, renal, and cardiac issues
  •   To Avoid  medication which is unsafe for pregnancy 
  •   To Avoid contact with chemicals and pesticides
  •   Promotion of Vaccination against Rubella and Hepatitis B
  • To avoid unwanted pregnancies and less inter-pregnancy interval
  • To be safe from environmental hazards and prevention
  • Protection from unnecessary radiation exposure in occupational, environmental and medical settings
    Other benefits  of Preconception counselling are-
  • Reduced child and maternal mortality
  • Preventing complications during pregnancy
  • Preventing complications during delivery
  • Preventing stillbirths, preterm labour, and preterm birth
  • Preventing low birth weight
  • Reducing neonatal infections
  • Preventing the transmission of STDs/HIV