Plan the baby with your doctor!

  • FG Bureau
  • India
  • Feb 27, 2015

During the recent Pregnancy Awareness Week, doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Gurgaon emphasised the importance of Pre-Conception Counselling for couples, for helping improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy and minimising the risk of birth defects in their child. The news of a pregnancy has a beaming couple rushing to a doctor, and rightly so. Everything from diet to activity to nutritional supplements is discussed and then followed in detail. However, not many couples tend to visit a doctor and seek medical advice when they are planning a baby. Most do not even know the importance of this crucial intervention. Do you know that pre-conception medical advice can help you avert risks of pregnancy complications and potential birth defects? There are several factors that affect conception and pregnancy, including the age of the couple, their physical and reproductive health, nutritional status, eating habits and even lifestyle. By changing your lifestyle, improving your physical health and treating any hitherto undetected ailment, you can multiply your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child. Yet, more often than not, pregnancies are ‘unplanned’, and it is only after the child has been conceived that most couples think of visiting a doctor. By this time it is too late to check the factors that may cause some birth defects. “In our society, where  going to a doctor is often a last resort, nobody even considers visiting a clinic for a pre-conception consultation, unless the couple are having problems with fertility or the woman is unable to conceive. However, the truth is that if a pre-conception check up and counselling becomes a norm, a number of unhealthy pregnancies or deficiencies in children can be prevented,” says Dr. Chetna Jain, Senior Consultant – Gynecology & Obstetrics, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon. “By promoting healthy living, improving lifestyles and eliminating bad habits like drinking or smoking in both men and women, we can ensure healthier pregnancies and prevent several risk factors that may cause birth defects or malformations. While antenatal care involves only the mother and the unborn baby, pre-conception care also involves the father, who contributes equally to the formation of the child’s essential genetic pool,” adds Dr. Chetna Jain. 

During Pre-Conception Counselling, couples are encouraged to make informed choices and understand the health issues that may affect conception and pregnancy. More importantly, pre-conception care helps identify couples that are at an increased risk of conceiving babies with birth defects. For example, some health issues like diabetes or obesity can affect pregnancy; even some food habits or medicines can negatively affect pregnancy. Further, some actions before pregnancy can essentially reduce the risk of unhealthy or pre-term birth. For example, Folic Acid supplementation before conception can reduce the risk of a Neural Tube Defect (NTD). In some cases, keeping in mind the health condition or the specific ailments in a woman, targeted medical interventions or supplementation may be needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. For example, Vitamin D deficiency during conception can cause impaired fetal growth. A healthy weight reduces the risk of Neural Tube Defect (NTD), gestational diabetes, pre-term delivery as well as hypertension. Apart from physical health, the doctors will also evaluate your heart, lungs and thyroid, and conduct a screening for hepatitis, HIV and syphilis, as these diseases in parents may affect the child.u


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