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15 Pre-Conception Planning


This article is from the General Pregnancy FAQ, by swnymph@FensEnde.com (Sabrina Cuddy) with numerous contributions by others.

15 Pre-Conception Planning

Dana L. Wettergreen <dr18+@andrew.cmu.edu>

>Is there anything I should be doing regarding general nutrition *before*
>pregnancy? Starting to take vitamins, quit my coffee habit, etc? I know
>I need to lose weight, so I'm working on that now...

What follows is advice my sister, an OB/GYN, gave me (carefully
shortened to save space--tho it's still long):

-Keep track of your periods. This will help your care provider give you
the most accurate due date.

-Quit smoking. Women who smoke have more infertility, tubal
pregnancies, miscarriages, abnormal bleeding during pregnancy, premature
labor, stillbirths and fetal distress in labor. Their babies are more
likely to have stunted growth in the womb, pneumonia, asthma, and to die
of crib death (SIDS). It is never too late to quit and improve the
health of yourself and your child. Call the American Cancer Society for
practical hints for success in quitting.

-Avoid Alcohol (and Drugs). There is no known *safe* amount of drinking
in pregnancy. If you find it difficult to avoid alcohol or drugs, you
may need help quitting. Alcoholics Anonymous can help. (Side note: I
also heard/read that the father's alcohol use can impact baby's health,
so your husband should also consider giving up alcohol when you're
trying to get pregnant).

-Take a folate supplement. Folate has been shown to lessen the risk of
spina bifida and other birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
Folate (also known as folic acid) should be added to your diet *prior to
conception* and into pregnancy. You can get the 0.4-1.0 milligrams you
need from a multivitamin or prenatal supplement or by eating more dark
green leafy vegetables, liver, fruit, green beans and whole grains.

-Eat healthy foods. Eating a wide variety of foods as close to their
natural state as possible will provide you with good nutrition, and help
your baby develop and you feel your best. While you need to gain 25-35
pounds over the 9 months, pregnancy isn't an excuse to eat anything and
everything! On the flip side, pregnancy is not the time to diet.

-Chemicals. Some chemicals used on the job or for hobbies can cause
birth defects. Check with Poison Control (1-800-362-0101) about
specific chemicals you use.

-Rubella (or German measles). Getting rubella early in pregnancy can
cause birth defects. A simple blood test can tell if you have immunity.
If you are not immune, a vaccine given at least 3 months before getting
pregnant will protect you from getting rubella in the future. (**Side
note: I heard that the vaccine we were given in school in the 8th grade
(about 1978) has not been as effective as they thought. So many doctors
are testing and re-vaccinating.)

-Diabetes. If you are diabetic, see an obstetrician before trying to conceive.

-Women with HIV or AIDS should avoid pregnancy.

-Talk with your doctor about genetic counseling for conditions that run
in families, such as hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease,
Tay-Sachs, or mental retardation.

-When you do get pregnant, talk with your doctor about toxoplasmosis and
get someone else to change the cat's litterbox.

-If you are on any regular medication, including those for high blood
pressure and epilepsy, talk with your doctor before you get pregnant
about safer medications.

I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail
me and I'll "go to the source" and get answers.


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