I don't remember who put out those commercials (I think maybe the March of Dimes) that shows this stork walking around an office and all the reactions of the various women that are there. The message is a good one: be prepared for pregnancy because you never know. Almost 50% of all pregnancies are unintended, and means that the women has unlikely been preparing her body for a healthy pregnancy. So, I am going to make a case for all women to be prepared.
I had mentioned in the previous post that most women do not make preconception visits with their women's health provider. For those of you who do want to become pregnant in the coming months or even year- please make an appointment with your midwife, nurse practitioner, or gynecologist. I, of course, am biased when it comes to nurse midwives and nurse practitioners for obvious reasons but I would put money on the fact that those specific providers would spend more time with you in answering questions and teaching important aspects of preconception readiness. (Not saying doc's aren't doing that well, but... nursing backgrounds seem to lend those providers with a better approach).
Here are some of the things that are discussed at a preconception visit: (this is not all inclusive- give or take some of this stuff)
- Current method of birth control
- Review of your menstrual history
- Review of previous pregnancy history, if any
- Review of your medical & mental health history and discussion of ways to improve your health to decrease pregnancy risks if applicable
- Nutrition and exercise, and recommendations to improve on these things (because we know we all can!)
- Smoking & recreational drug use and cessation
- Immunization status
- Folic acid intake (400mcg/day supplementation ideally up to 3 months before conception)
- Genetic risks
- Family history of birth defects, stillbirths, or miscarriages
- Partner's health
Based on this information, the provider will make recommendations to improve whatever may pose a risk on a pregnancy. High risk issues, such as a family history of a genetic disease, may lead to an appointment with a genetic counselor. Specific discussion about the timing of conception is important, too, as well as learning about the menstrual cycle and how to "read" your own cycle is discussed. I've also found that distinguishing how infertility and fertility can help, too, because so many women worry that if they aren't pregnant within two months of trying they are infertile. This also ties in the importance of understanding the menstrual cycle and even mapping your own cycle to know what are you best days for conception.
The ultimate goal of of preconception counseling is for healthy moms and babies. There are things some women just don't want to hear (like weight loss, or adding exercise into your life) but are really important factors so when that stork shows up you are prepared whether you planned for it now or not.