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It’s very important for a woman to be in a state of optimum health before attempting to get pregnant. Preconception care is an integral part of health care to prepare optimally for pregnancy. A great number of pregnancies are unplanned and if so, essential health interventions provided once a woman and her partner decide to have a child may be too late. If you have had a concern to worry because you do not know what to do and where to get information on this topic then, worry no more because this article is for you.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR PRECONCEPTION CARE?

Couples who decide they are ready to have a baby. All females of reproductive age (15 to 49 years according to the world health organization) with pre-existing medical conditions that are severe.

WHEN SHOULD PRECONCEPTION CARE BEGIN?

Ideally Preconception care should begin 3 to 6 months before attempting conception. With the knowledge that most pregnancies are unplanned and some individuals might have some pre-existing medical conditions, the intended pregnancy might not be recommended. It is best that preconception counselling which is a part of preconception care be carried out when the opportunity presents.

WHO SHOULD PROVIDE PRECONCEPTION CARE?

It should be provided by healthcare professionals with skills on Preconception care. This can be carried out by the following groups of health professionals such as; midwives, reproductive health nurses, general practitioners, diabetologists, neurologists, cardiologists but not limited to them. This is important because patients with health needs necessitating their visit to these health professionals should know if their conditions or the drugs they are taking can impact on the pregnancy and if the intended pregnancy can impact on their health conditions and worsen it. If these health professionals are not up-to-date on Preconception counselling and care, the obstetrician or gynecologist will be the ideal person they should refer you to.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PRECONCEPTION CARE?

  • It helps to identify couples with inheritable genetic disorders who will benefit from a referral to a geneticist and prenatal diagnosis.
  • Women with systemic diseases such as heart, kidney, severe lungs diseases can be identified and advised to postpone pregnancy until their conditions improve.
  • Women with bad obstetric history such as recurrent miscarriage, death of the baby in the womb, will be investigated and followed up closely to prevent recurrence.
  • Women with endocrine disorders like diabetes or thyroid disease will be identified and optimised before pregnancy.
  • The couple will be counselled on lifestyle modifications for the woman as well as diet, exercise and partner’s support.

In my next post on this, I will share more on the types of food to eat and what not to eat, suppliments to take, drugs to avoid, and your employment rights as a woman as regards pregnancy.

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