Pre-Pregnancy Care

Taking care of yourself prior to pregnancy

Optimising your health prior to a pregnancy improves your health during pregnancy, as well as the health of your baby.

Ideally all couples should have a check-up with their GP prior to a pregnancy, but this is especially important if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Reasons to have a prepregnancy consultation with us:

  • You have had a miscarriage (or multiple miscarriages) and you want to know if there is an underlying cause, and what your risk of miscarriage will be in the future
  • You have a medical issue that might impact on a future pregnancy – this includes medical conditions (such as thyroid issues, diabetes, lupus, epilepsy), as well as mental health issues (such as anxiety or depression), and other psychiatric conditions
  • You are wondering whether pregnancy might make your medical condition worse
  • You are taking medications and want to know if these are safe in pregnancy
  • You want to optimize your medical health prior to pregnancy
  • You are wondering about risks of pregnancy complications in pregnancy (for example: premature birth, baby being born underweight)
  • You have a known genetic condition, or there is a family history of a genetic condition
  • You wonder if your medical condition could be passed onto a future child
  • You want to know about available testing for genetic conditions (which is available and offered to all women who are planning a pregnancy)
  • You have had a traumatic birth and want to discuss what this means for future births
  • You have had a stillbirth and want to know why, and what this means for future pregnancies
  • You just want to meet us prior to getting pregnant

Here is some general information to help you optimise your health prior to pregnancy:

GP
Make sure you have a good GP (general practitioner) – after all you will be visiting them a lot after the birth of your child! If you don’t have a GP, the best way to find one is to ask friends or family for a recommendation. Make an appointment for a pre-pregnancy checkup. Ensure you are as healthy as possible before getting pregnant.

Pre-existing medical condition
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is important that you discuss the fact that you are planning a pregnancy with the doctor that looks after this medical condition, as well as with your obstetrician. Establish a team of professionals to guide you through the planning of your pregnancy and the pregnancy itself. Your team should include your general practitioner (GP), your obstetrician and any other specialist doctors you have, as well as other support such as psychologist, diabetes educator, dietician as needed.

Medication
Not all medications are safe to take in pregnancy or breastfeeding, and some have to be stopped several months before you try to get pregnant. Do not cease medications without talking to your doctor first. Always check with a doctor or pharmacist before taking medication in pregnancy. This includes over the counter and alternative preparations.

Weight
Being overweight or underweight can lead to health problems in pregnancy, as well as making it harder for you to get pregnant. Aim for a well balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and avoid highly processed food. If you wish, we can refer you to a dietician to optimise your diet in preparation for pregnancy.

Folate
Supplements to prevent neural tube defects are recommended for at least 1 month prior to conception and throughout the first trimester (500mcg each day).

Iodine
Supplements to prevent abnormal brain development are also recommended  (150 mcg each day).

Caffeine
Limit your caffeine intake (found in coffee, tea, some energy drinks, chocolate) to 1-2 cups of coffee per day.

Smoking
Smoking is harmful to unborn babies and their mothers. The QUITline and website have some useful information to help you.

Alcohol
As you may not realise you are pregnant until you miss a period it is best to minimise alcohol consumption while trying to conceive. It is also advisable not to drink while pregnant.

Substance Use
Use of illicit drugs can be harmful to your baby – obviously these should be ceased prior to conception.

Vaccinations
It is recommended that you are vaccinated for the following conditions prior to pregnancy:

  • Rubella (German Measles)
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox)
  • Annual Flu vaccine (this is safe to be given in pregnancy also)

Cervical Screening Test
This has replaced the Pap smear – ensure yours is up to date before pregnancy.

Dentist
Have a checkup if this has not been done recently.

Genetic Carrier Screening
There are various tests available to check if you or your partner carry common genetic conditions which can be passed onto your child. Testing is best done prior to pregnancy and your GP can guide you through this.

Trying to Conceive
Generally women ovulate around 14 days before they get a period. Ideally sperm should already be there to meet the egg as it is released from the ovary, so have sex about every second day around this fertile time. Even for the most fertile woman, if she has sex at the right time of the month, her chance of getting pregnant that month is only 20%. So it may take a few months to get pregnant. If you have been trying for 12 months without success then you should consider seeing a fertility specialist. If you are older (over 37 years old) you may not want to wait the full 12 months before seeking help.

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