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Planning A Pregnancy


Your health and the health of your baby can greatly benefit from planning your pregnancy. Your physical and emotional well being before conception is essential to your baby's growth and development during pregnancy, so taking steps to ensure that you are ready to have a baby can increase your odds of experiencing a pregnancy without complications.

Before you decide to conceive, see your doctor for a comprehensive medical examination. During this visit, your physician will perform a Pap test and internal exam to ensure that your cervix, ovaries and uterus are in working order, as well as noting your weight. He or she will take a detailed family history, and refer you to a genetic counsellor if there is an increased risk of your baby being born with a genetic disorder. Certain genetic abnormalities are inherited, so your doctor will want to know if there is a history of physical or mental defects in your family. Your ethnicity also plays a part in your prenatal health diseases like sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease are more prevalent in certain ethnic groups.

If you have a pre-existing chronic condition, or if tests reveal that you have a medical disorder, your doctor will provide you with information on treatment and risks during your pregnancy. If you have ever had a sexually transmitted disease, an abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth, your physician needs to know.

A blood test will be performed to see if you have been vaccinated against rubella, a type of measles that can cause birth defects or miscarriage if contracted during pregnancy. You will need to get a vaccine at least three months before you get pregnant if you are not immune.

Now is the time to examine your lifestyle, and eliminate any bad habits. If you smoke, you need to quit now! It can be hard to quit once you are pregnant, and studies have shown that mothers who smoke have babies that are lower in birth weight, and face an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If you drink alcohol or use drugs, it is imperative that you stop using before you become pregnant. Your baby faces serious risks if you drink or use drugs while pregnant.

Your doctor will advise you to begin taking a prenatal vitamin which includes folic acid. Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients for pregnancy, as it drastically reduces the fetus' risk of developing spina bifida. You need to take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, as well as eating a variety of folate-rich foods like leafy greens, enriched pastas and citrus fruits.

 


 
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