Planning to start a family is an exciting time for a couple. Careful planning can help your child have a healthy start to life.
Here is a useful pre-pregnancy checklist to help ensure the healthiest start for your little one.
These should be done every 2 years. This can be done before pregnancy or during early pregnancy.
Self examination should be done monthly. Annual examination with a GP is a good idea.
Sexually transmitted infections:
Identify and treat before falling pregnant to minimise any risks to your baby.
It is best to avoid dental work in pregnancy, so organise a dental check before falling pregnant.
Existing health conditions and medications:
Book in with your GP to discuss any existing health conditions, gynaecological conditions or medications being taken for either you or your partner. It is important not to stop taking medications because you want to fall pregnant without discussion with your GP. In conjunction with your GP you can make informed decisions about the best course of action.
If you feel overwhelmed, anxious or need someone to talk to reach out to your doctor or midwife.
Whooping cough vaccine is recommended before or during pregnancy to protect your newborn baby. It does not last a lifetime, check to see if you need a booster from your GP. This is free for expectant parents and parents of a newborn in Victoria.
Pregnant women can become very sick with influenza. This must be updated yearly. Flu vaccine can be given before or during pregnancy. It is free for pregnant women, visit your Langpark doctor to find out more.
In the first 20 weeks of pregnancy rubella can cause severe abnormalities to an unborn child. It is important to be immunised before pregnancy. Your immunity can be tested by your GP. Note immunity doesn’t always last a life time.
Chicken pox immunity:
Chicken pox in early pregnancy or close to baby’s due date can cause miscarriage or abnormalities. If you have had chicken pox previously you will be immune. Otherwise vaccination is available, you should not fall pregnant for 28 days after having the vaccination.
Women who are underweight are at risk of pre-term delivery. Women who are overweight or obese are at risk of pregnancy complications eg miscarriage, fetal abnormalities, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. Obesity can also result in complications during birth and labour. Weight can also impact on your ability to conceive.
Discussing weight management is an important part of pregnancy planning. A small change can have a big impact.
Folate is found in some foods or can be taken as a supplement. It is important to take folate while trying to conceive and during pregnancy to minimise risk of spina bifida. The recommended dose is 0.5mg of folic acid daily for people who do not have any risk factors for spina bifida.
It is strongly advised to limit alcohol consumption when trying to conceive. Alcohol can have effects on physical and mental development of baby. Alcohol intake in men can reduce sperm counts.
Smoking has shown to have harmful effects on an unborn baby and increases the risk of infertility and miscarriage. It is recommended to quit before becoming pregnant.
Recreational and illegal drugs:
Recreational drugs have been shown to harm baby and mother. These should be stopped if planning pregnancy. They can also reduce sex drive and sperm counts.
See your doctor
Come in and see one of our GPs and we will talk you through your pregnancy planning. Call us on 03 9789 5966 or book here
Reference and further reading: The Royal Women’s Hospital