Pregnancy planning involves talking to your doctor prior to becoming pregnant. The planning process helps create a healthy environment for the fetus, can prevent birth defects as well as other pregnancy related problems. It involves assessing you for any illness or pre-existing diseases which may affect the pregnancy and delivery of a healthy baby. Although many women have normal pregnancies, pre-planning with your physician improves the chances of a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Some of the issues addressed by obstetricians in pregnancy planning include:
- Medical conditions: A thorough medical examination before pregnancy helps in diagnosing any medical conditions that may affect the mother and baby such as diabetes, high blood pressure, anaemia, kidney disorders, thyroid diseases, and heart problems. Your physician will advise you on certain measures to control them. Infections and vaccinations: During pregnancy, the mother will be more susceptible to infections which can cause serious birth defects or illness in the baby. Tests are done to determine immunity against diseases such as measles and chicken pox. If the expecting mother lacks antibodies against these diseases, then the doctor will advise to get vaccination before pregnancy.
- Immunization: If the mother is a carrier of hepatitis-B virus, blood tests will be done to identify the virus and the child will be vaccinated at birth. Vaccination protects the foetus from hepatitis-B infections.
- Medications: Women who are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will be advised to take certain medications during pregnancy to decrease the risk of the foetus becoming infected with HIV.
- Hereditary disorders: In women with a family history of hereditary disorders such as haemophilia, sickle cell anaemia, cystic fibrosis, and thalassemia, the chances of a child developing these conditions is increased. Therefore before planning for pregnancy your doctor may suggest both mother and father undergo certain tests to identify these diseases.
- Diet: Practicing a healthy diet is very important before pregnancy. Your doctor may suggest changes in your diet and including supplements such as prenatal vitamins and folic acid. Your doctor will also advise to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs as they may affect the baby in harmful ways.