by Patricia Hughes
There are some lifestyle changes you can make now to have a healthy baby in the future. If you smoke cigarettes, now is the time to quit. Smoking is very dangerous for you’re your health and your baby’s. During pregnancy, you are at increased risk of miscarriage, preterm labor and low birth weight.
Smoking continues to pose dangers after the baby is born. For this reason, it’s better to have your husband or partner quit with you. Babies born to mothers who smoke have an increased risk of Sudden Infants Death Syndrome and asthma. Quitting is hard, but you can do it. Your doctor can help with ways to make quitting easier.
Avoid drinking alcohol if you plan to become pregnant in the near future. Drinking alcohol affects your baby. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the result of drinking during pregnancy. This can cause birth defects and learning disabilities in the baby later. Street drugs have similar negative effects on the baby’s health. Quit any drug use prior to becoming [tag-tec]pregnant[/tag-tec].
The Preconception Visit
You will have blood drawn prior to conception. The doctor will test for a variety of things. One is for your blood type. This is to test for the presence of Rh factor. If you have a negative blood type and your husband is positive, this can cause problems later. When the baby’s Rh is different from moms, her body can attack the baby. This is most common in second pregnancies. You will be treated for this to avoid problems with future births.
Your blood will also be tested for immunity to certain diseases, such as rubella and chicken pox. Even if you were vaccinated as a child, you will be tested. Vaccines can wear off, leaving you unprotected. If you are found to not have the immunity, the doctor may want you to get vaccinated before becoming pregnant. These vaccines are not considered safe during pregnancy. If you don’t get vaccinated before becoming pregnant, they will vaccinate you in the hospital after the baby is born.
The doctor will discuss any prescription medications you are taking. Some prescriptions are not considered safe and you will need to stop taking them. These include many acne medications. Other medications may need to be switched to a safer alternative, such as certain antidepressants. Your doctor will give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins. These contain folic acid, which has been shown to help prevent neural tube defects in the baby. Taking them before you get pregnant is important to reap the benefits of this protection.
Your doctor will ask about your health history. Mention any chronic conditions that may affect your pregnancy, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. The doctor will discuss your family health history and that of your husband. If there are any concerns about genetic disorders, you may be sent for genetic counseling prior to conception. Taking all the necessary steps to plan for pregnancy will result in a better chance of having a healthy baby.
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Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.
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