The Importance of Preconception Care
Preconception checks are recommended by the World Health OrganisationOn Saturday, 4th 2017, the Daily Nation had a story about infertility. It is a sober reminder that there are many couples who would like to have children and they do not, it is also sad to read of how expensive it is and that many couples in the lower social economic level cannot access such services. As I was reading the article I wondered how many people are getting married today (being a Saturday) and they have their whole lives planned out and one of the things they have planned is when to have a baby. Some will have honeymoon babies, others would like to wait a year or two and others will play it by ear and wait for the blessing to come whenever. The one thing most couples do not plan for is preconception check-up.
Preconception checks are recommended by the World Health Organisation as it improves pregnancy outcomes.
WHO defines preconception care as the provision of biomedical, behavioral and social health to women and couples before conception. These checks also help women and men know if there is an issue that needs to be addressed and therefore reduce the rate of miscarriages and help you know if you have fertility issues and if so have them corrected. I have shared my fibroid story and the miracle of being able to carry a pregnancy successfully albeit with difficulty, but we have 2 sons whom we treasure.
If I had done a preconception check then I would have realized I have fibroids, their size, if they needed to be taken care of and if not I would have been able to prepare myself psychologically for the journey ahead. The benefits of preconception include a better outcome of the pregnancy, reduces incidences of congenital birth defects and it helps prevent maternal mortality.
All these are achieved through;
Nutrition Counselling: women are advised to take folic acid, most government hospitals give women IFAS which helps increase iron as well. Folic acid is very important before conception and is effective for the first 3 months of a pregnancy so it is advisable for one to take them as they plan to conceive. Folic acid reduces chances of spinal bifida among other neurological defects.
Exercise: obesity poses a risk to fertility and it is therefore important to achieve your optimum weight before you try to conceive. Have good health in general helps one carry a pregnancy much easier and with less complications such as hypertension. It is also advisable for the couple to stop smoking as it can affect the foetus development.
Visit a Healthcare provider: Your doctor, midwife or healthcare provider will be able to take your history and know what tests need to be done and walk with you before conceiving, after conceiving, during the birth and after. It is therefore important to choose the right healthcare provider as the journey is long and you need to be comfortable with him or her.
Preconception checks are important and it is my hope that women planning to conceive will seriously consider doing them before trying for a baby in order to improve your pregnancy outcome and to avoid all the emotional feelings one has when trying to conceive and only going to see the Doctor after reaching what you feel is the end of the road.
If you find this article helpful please like and share it, because sharing is caring.