The Importance of Preconception Care
Preconception care is the medical care and advice given to couples or individuals planning to have a baby. This care is valuable because it helps check that the mother is as healthy as possible before conception.
Preconception care often involves various steps, including taking folic acid supplements, getting vaccinated, managing chronic health conditions, and avoiding harmful substances. By taking these steps, future families may help reduce the likelihood of defects, premature birth, and other complications.
Additionally, preconception care may help individuals identify and address any underlying health issues that may affect their ability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. Here we cover more about preconception care, including benefits and key components.
The Benefits of Preconception Care
Preconception care is a must for people who want to manage their pregnancies proactively. Understand the importance of preconception care by discovering the benefits below:
- May reduce the risk of birth defects: Preconception care may help reduce the risk of birth defects by ensuring the mother is healthy and has the necessary nutrients before conception. This can help prevent issues such as neural tube defects, which can be caused by a lack of folic acid.
- May improve pregnancy outcomes: Preconception care can help improve pregnancy outcomes by addressing any underlying health issues before conception. Women who receive this care are less likely to experience pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.
- Could help identify and manage chronic health conditions: Preconception care can help identify and manage chronic health conditions that may affect pregnancy, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. This may help reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and could improve overall health outcomes for the mother and baby.
- Provides guidance on healthy lifestyle choices: Preconception care offers advice on healthy lifestyle choices and habits, such as maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. These choices can help improve overall health and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
- Helps couples plan for a healthy pregnancy: Preconception care helps budding families prepare for a healthy pregnancy by addressing any concerns or questions they may have. This can help reduce stress and anxiety and help boost the mother and baby’s overall health.
Key Components of Preconception Care
Preconception care addresses three aspects of preparing to conceive — reproductive health, overall health, and pregnancy planning.
The reproductive health aspect of preconception care helps prepare women’s reproductive systems to sustain a healthier pregnancy. Proper reproductive health involves the following steps:
- Having a preconception checkup: Preconception checkups are designed to assess the individual or couple’s overall health, identify potential health issues or risks, and provide guidance on optimizing health before becoming pregnant. During a preconception checkup, the health care provider will review medical histories, perform a physical exam, and order any necessary tests or screenings. Depending on the individual or couple’s health status, the doctor may recommend certain interventions or treatments to optimize preconception health, such as taking folic acid supplements or managing chronic health conditions.
- Taking prenatal vitamins: Prenatal vitamins contain various nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy, such as folic acid, iron, and calcium. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus, while iron helps produce hemoglobin to carry oxygen to the fetus and help prevent anemia in the mother. Finally, calcium helps the baby develop strong bones and teeth. Prenatal vitamins can also address any nutrient deficiencies that may affect fertility, as well as support overall health and wellness, which is key to a healthy pregnancy.
Having optimal overall health before conception sets the future family up for a healthy pregnancy and birth. Preconception care aims to enhance a couple’s overall health by addressing the following steps:
- Quitting smoking: Quitting smoking before pregnancy eliminates the adverse effects of smoking on fetal growth. It can reduce the risk of delivering a low birth weight baby or a small-for-gestational-age baby. Quitting smoking pre-pregnancy also enhances fertility in men and women, as smoking can reduce sperm count and motility in men and cause hormonal imbalances and ovary damage in women.
- Reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption: Drinking large amounts of caffeine is associated with a lower chance of conceiving and a higher risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. Limiting alcohol is also recommended to reduce the chances of exposing a fetus to alcohol before the mother knows she’s pregnant.
- Assessing current medications: It’s important to discuss your current medications with your doctor. They will guide you on any medications to discontinue or substitute that may be harmful during pregnancy.
- Staying active: Physical activity helps improve overall health and wellness, making it easier for women to conceive and cope with the physical demands of pregnancy, labor and delivery. It may also help reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia during pregnancy.
Plan for Pregnancy
Preconception health care addresses other considerations that are helpful to think about pre-baby, including the following:
- Health insurance: Health insurance is essential for mothers to get the medical checkups and screenings they need for a healthy pregnancy. Checking on health insurance and making any necessary adjustments before preconception helps individuals or couples prepare for healthy gestation and ensures they have access to the care they need. Being prepared financially also helps decrease stress and anxiety related to the major life change of having a child.
- Preconception genetic testing: Preconception genetic testing can help identify if an individual is a carrier of a specific genetic disorder before they become pregnant. This testing can help couples understand their risk of passing on a genetic disorder to their offspring and make informed decisions about family planning and pregnancy management.
- Long-term health plans for the baby: It’s never too early to begin thinking about a future child’s health. Stem cells and tissue from an umbilical cord and placenta can treat cancer and other serious diseases, so having them accessible for future use is a smart move for forward-thinking families. Americord® is a trusted leader in cord tissue, umbilical cord blood, and placental tissue banking. Families can use these valuable tissues and blood for therapeutic or medical needs in the future, securing their health and longevity from a myriad of immediate and long-term diseases and health conditions.
Preconception Genetic Testing and Cord Blood Storage Through Americord®
From genetic testing to stem cell storage, Americord® is here to support all phases of a pregnancy journey. When you partner with us, you’ll have access to the most innovative, advanced storage options for stem cells, cord blood, and placental tissues, all with top-notch service and unprecedented transparency. Choose the best plan for your family and invest in your future child’s health today.
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