LABELLE, FL. -- All women who are thinking about getting pregnant in the next 3-4 months should have a sit-down session with their healthcare provider for pre-conceptual counseling (counseling and evaluation of important issues and risk factors pertinent to all women who want to get pregnant, including special medical, surgical, gynecologic, obstetrical, and age related history).
Planning a pregnancy gives you and your baby a healthy start. All women of child-bearing years should be pre-screened for general health and possible risk factors before attempting to become pregnant.
With a small amount of pre-pregnancy planning, many potential complications in pregnancy can be avoided. Women should not smoke, or should quit smoking prior to conception. There is very strong evidence that smoking tobacco is associated with many complications in pregnancy.
Additionally, women should avoid alcohol and drugs because they can cause birth defects in a fetus.
Women should also take Folic Acid (400mg) once a day for about three months prior to getting pregnant. Folic acid has been shown to reduce the development of defects of the spine such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Eating dark green vegetables and beans are also good sources of essential vitamins needed for a healthy pregnancy.
Pre-conceptual counseling can also be for males. Even though the paternal effects of alcohol, smoking and drugs have not been extensively studied in men, the most popular belief is that men play a key role in the health of a developing fetus. Males and females should ask themselves: “Am I ready to be a parent? Can I emotionally, physically, psychologically and economically provide for another human being?”
Meeting with a healthcare provider prior to pregnancy allows for screening of risk factors, lifestyle modifications, and immunization.
Please remember: Both parents are responsible for the health of their baby!
-submitted by Hendry-Glades Health Department, Pat Dobbins, Director