What is preconception health care?

Preconception health care is care given to a woman before pregnancy to manage conditions and behaviors that could be a risk to her or her baby. There are many topics covered under preconception care.  What should you and your doctor be concerned about before you start trying to get pregnant?

  • Take Folic acid supplements to prevent neural tube defects.
  • Make sure you are up to date with your Rubella vaccinations to prevent Congenital Rubella Syndrome.

Have your doctor check for and treat existing health conditions (such as the ones below) to prevent complications to you, and reduce the risk of birth defects:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hepatitis B
  • PKU
  • Hypertension
  • Blood diseases
  • Eating disorders
  • Have your doctor review medications that can affect you and your baby, such as epilepsy medicine, blood thinners, and some medicines used to treat acne, such as Accutane.
  • Your doctor will review your pregnancy history – have there been any complications in the past?
  • Be sure to stop smoking to reduce the risk of having a low birth weight baby
  • Be sure to eliminate alcohol consumption to prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and other complications.
  • Your doctor will provide counseling to promote healthy behaviors such as appropriate weight, nutrition, exercise, oral health. Counseling can help you avoid substance abuse and toxic substances. It can help you and your partner understand genetic risks, mental health issues (such as depression), and intimate partner domestic violence.

Good preconception health care is about managing current health conditions. By taking action on health issues BEFORE pregnancy, future problems for you and your baby can be prevented. Preconception health care should be tailored to each individual woman. It means helping you and your partner reduce risks and get ongoing care.  Your partner and other family members are also very important in supporting the goals of preconception health.