care is care that a woman or a couple receive when they are considering
having a baby, prior to becoming pregnant. It involves finding and taking
care of any problems that might affect the mother or the baby during the
pregnancy. It also involves steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of
birth defects and other problems. For some women, preparing their body for
pregnancy takes a few months. For other women, it might take longer.
Whether this is your first, second, or
sixth baby, the following are important steps to help you get ready for the
healthiest pregnancy possible.
1) See your Doctor: Before getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about your
health history and any medical conditions you currently have that could
affect a pregnancy. He or she also will discuss any previous pregnancy
problems, medicines that you currently are taking, the use of recreational
drugs, vaccinations that you might need, and steps you can take before
pregnancy to prevent certain birth defects.
2) Treat medical conditions: If you currently have any medical conditions,
be sure they are being treated and are well controlled. Some of these
conditions include: Diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, seizure
disorders, Lupus, PKU, sexually transmitted diseases and any chronic
condition. Some of these diseases increase the risk of birth defects if not
appropriately managed in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
3) Evaluate lifestyle and behaviors: Talk with your doctor or another health
professional if you smoke, drink alcohol, use street drugs of are exposed to
toxic substances. Discontinuing these activities prior to pregnancy will
significantly improve your chances of a successful pregnancy. Health care
professionals can help you with counseling, treatment, and other support
4) Evaluate your medications: Taking certain medicines during the first few
weeks of your pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. These include some
prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal
supplements. Discuss the need for medications with your doctor and make sure
you are taking the medications that are necessary and avoiding those that
may be harmful.
5) Vaccinations: Some vaccinations are recommended before you become
pregnant, during pregnancy, or right after delivery. Having the right
vaccinations at the right time can help keep you healthy and help keep your
baby from getting very sick or having lifelong health problems.
6) Take 400 micrograms of Folic acid every day: If a woman has enough folic
acid in her body at least 1 month before and during pregnancy, it can help
prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. Supplemental
folic acid has also been linked with a decrease in the risk of having a
child with autism.
7) Reach and maintain a healthy weight: People who are overweight or obese
have a higher risk for many serious conditions during pregnancy including
birth defects, diabetes, toxemia, preterm delivery, heart disease. People
who are underweight are also at risk for serious health problems. If you are
underweight, overweight, or obese, talk with your doctor about ways to reach
and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant.
8) Genetic counseling: Based on a family history of health problems, your
doctor might refer you for genetic counseling. Other reasons people go for
genetic counseling include having had several miscarriages, infant deaths,
or trouble getting pregnant (infertility), or a genetic condition or birth
defect that occurred to a family member or during a previous pregnancy.
9) Get Mentally Healthy: Mental health is how we think, feel, and act as we
cope with life. To be at your best, you need to feel good about your life
and value yourself. Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad, or stressed
sometimes. However, if these feelings do not go away and they interfere with
your daily life, get help. Talk with your doctor or another health
professional about your feelings and treatment options
Once you have taken the above steps, you will have done all you can to
assure the best possible outcome for a pregnancy.
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