Posts for: March, 2018
Being proactive and preparing for pregnancy can really work in your favor. Here are 9 important items to consider when you're thinking about having a baby.
1. Start Prenatal Vitamins
I recommend all women start taking prenatal vitamins well before they start trying to conceive, and certainly once they stop using contraception. You never know how long it will take to get pregnant. So start the prenatal vitamin of your choice today!
Some very important nutrients, particularly folic acid, need to be up to par during the first few weeks of your pregnancy, and even before you get the positive pregnancy test. If you wait until you find out that you're pregnant, you may miss the window of time where the extra nutrients are the most beneficial.
2. Stop Contraception
In general, there is not a large delay to conception after you stop taking birth control. But the return to normal ovulatory function is not the same for all birth control methods. The exception may be a few months longer delay after stopping Depo-Provera injections (the birth control shot).
3. Quit Smoking
Smoking leads to an increased risk of miscarriage and a variety of pregnancy complications. Pregnancy, if nothing else, should be motivation enough to give up this noxious habit.
4. Get Screening Tests and Vaccines
Have your doctor check your blood work to see if you are immune to rubella. If you are not, get vaccinated. In addition, if you have not received a tetanus vaccine in the last 5 years, I recommend you get one. The new vaccine covers tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). By getting vaccinated for whopping cough before having a baby, you can decrease the chances of transmitting this awful disease to your baby when he or she is born.
Also, there are a variety of genetic diseases that can be detected in potential parents prior to conception. Ask your provider what tests, if any, can be performed before you conceive.
5. Manage Chronic Diseases
If you have a chronic disease -- including hypertension, diabetes, lupus, asthma, thyroid disease, seizures, or any psychiatric disorders -- you should be diligent about achieving optimum control prior to getting pregnant. Be sure to see your primary care doctor or specialists and let them know you are planning to have a baby. They can work with you to ensure you optimal health.
6. Get Pregnancy-Safe Medications
If you take any medications on a daily basis, consult with your provider to ensure they are safe to take during pregnancy.Also be sure to check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicines while trying or after conception.
7. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Social alcohol intake is considered OK while trying to conceive. But once you find out you are pregnant, I recommend that you avoid all alcohol intake during the course of your pregnancy.
8. Practice Weight Control
If a mother is obese during pregnancy, she runs a higher risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, the need for cesarean delivery, and other adverse outcomes for her baby. There is no better time than now -- before or while you're trying -- to start a healthy diet and exercise regimen. If you are markedly obese, I recommend delaying childbearing until you're able to reach a more healthy weight.
9. Seek Financial Stability
Pregnancy care and delivery are very expensive, even for insured patients. However, this is nothing compared to the cost of raising your child and paying for childcare if needed. You want to be comfortable in your ability to financially care for a child. And if you are not, I recommend taking the necessary steps to achieve that level of comfort before conceiving.
Due to the complexities of the female reproductive system, women have health concerns that require regular testing by an Ob/Gyn (obstetrician-gynecologist). The standard gynecological test administered to women in their reproductive years is called a pap smear. Find out why you shouldn't put off getting a pap smear if you're a woman over the age of 21.
What Is a Pap Smear?
A pap smear is an exam that allows your gynecologist to view a sample of cells on your cervix. A tool called a speculum is used to widen the vagina so that a swab of cells can be taken and the cervix can be examined visually. The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes. Women also often opt for STD testing at their pap smear appointments.
Why Pap Smears Are Important
Regular pap smears are important because they allow for early detection of potential problems. One of the most common concerns that gynecologists have for sexually active women is cervical cancer caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). When abnormal cells are checked and caught early, they can be treated with simple procedures to avoid future problems. Cervical cancer is considered very rare now, mostly thanks to regular pap smears, and it is most effectively treated in its early stages. Other concerns, like Bacterial Vaginosis and yeast infections can be diagnosed by a pap smear, and treated with medication.
How Often Should You Schedule a Pap Smear Appointment?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that regardless of sexual activity, young women should schedule their first pap smear appointment at age 21. After that, pap smears should be scheduled every two years until age 30. After that, pap smear appointment can be scheduled every three years as long as there isn't a problem detected. Women who have abnormal pap smears should take their gynecologist's advice for how often to come in for checkups.
Call Your Ob/Gyn Today
Today is a good day to call your local Ob/Gyn to schedule a pap smear. Don't put off this relatively simple and quick checkup appointment for women as it is an important part of maintaining good gynecological health.
Preconception counseling is an important step in pregnancy planning. When you are ready to have become pregnant, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your obstetrician or gynecologist first. There are specific questions your doctor will ask that can help you determine if you are truly ready to get pregnant. If you decide that it is the right time to conceive, your doctor can advise you on what things you can do now to improve your chances of conceiving, as well as how to prepare for pregnancy.
Preconception counseling is an excellent time to discuss any specific concerns you have with your doctor. For instance, having certain health conditions, such as diabetes, can potentially impact your health and the baby’s during pregnancy. Being older when pregnant, particularly in your mid to late 30s or even 40s, poses additional risks as well. There are many factors to take into account when deciding to become pregnant. Your doctor can assess your specific situation and make recommendations to help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
During your preconception counseling appointment, your doctor will discuss a variety of concerns with you and your partner, if you have one. Topics of discussion can include:
- Hereditary conditions that might be inherited by the baby
- Health conditions and concerns of the mother-to-be
- Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet
- Safe exercises for pregnancy
- Cessation of tobacco products, alcohol and other drugs
- Important immunizations for both mother and child
- Ways for the partner to be supportive during pregnancy
- Any other concerns the patient, partner or doctor might have
Seeing a doctor regularly throughout pregnancy is always important. It is also just as important to schedule time with your doctor to discuss various concerns before becoming pregnant. Preconception counseling can help you achieve optimal health for you and your baby throughout your pregnancy.