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Pre-Conception Counseling

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Pre-conception counseling is a meeting between an obstetrician and a couple that is planning to start trying to conceive a baby. This meeting is done to provide information about optimal health for both partners in order to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.

The meeting includes several key areas of concern, include possible risky behaviors, lifestyle modifications, and underlying health issues that could affect a couple’s ability to conceive and carry a baby to term. This is a preventive health care service and gives you plenty of time to start making healthy behavior changes so that you can be in good health for your pregnancy.

How Pre-Conception Counseling Works

The first part of a pre-conception counseling session is to discuss the family history. This is important because many birth defects and pregnancy complications are inherited or run in families. For example, the doctor may want to know if twins run in either the mother’s or father’s side of the family.

Another aspect of pre-conception counseling is a risk assessment. This is done for the mother and the father in order to determine if there are any medical or behavioral factors that could cause problems for the pregnancy. For example, maternal smoking is associated with preterm labor and low birth weight in babies. The risk assessment may include questions about diet and nutrition, domestic violence, financial security, smoking and alcohol use, drug use, caffeine consumption, and underlying health issues such as diabetes or thyroid disease.

The pre-conception counseling session is also a chance for the doctor to make recommendations to one or both of the partners. For example, you may be advised to begin taking a folic acid supplement. The pre-conception counseling may also include screening for certain diseases. Some people prefer to have genetic testing done, especially if bleeding disorders or other inherited diseases run in their families. You may also be checked for thyroid disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The doctor may check your blood type and that of your partner to determine if Rh factor is a concern for pregnancy.

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    When Should I Start Pre-Conception Counseling?

    Pre-conception counseling is recommended for everyone who is considering trying to conceive a child. The best time for a pre-conception counseling visit is about three to six months before a couple actively starts trying to conceive. This time frame allows you to implement healthy living behaviors, to boost your folic acid level, and to start treatment for any underlying health conditions that could affect your health or the health of a baby.

    Do I Need Pre-Conception Counseling?

    In general, every woman who is contemplating conceiving a child is a candidate for pre-conception counseling. If you are sexually active and not using any birth control, a pre-conception counseling session may be a good idea. The meeting with our doctor would give you an opportunity to improve your health just in case you do get pregnant, even if you are not trying to conceive. Pre-conception counseling may also be good for women considering becoming a surrogate parent.