Even before you’re pregnant, you can begin working to ensure the best possible health for your baby. One of the best ways to care for your health is to know about it. One of the ways to better understand your health before pregnancy is through a form of genetic testing known as carrier screening. Undergoing carrier screening can effectively help you learn whether or not your future child will be at risk of a genetic condition. With this knowledge in hand, you will be able to make informed decisions about your health and your pregnancy.
In addition to carrier screening, there are many other steps you can take to ensure that you are healthy before you conceive. Here are a few important steps to consider.
- Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor will be able to give you advice and assistance with proper preconception healthcare. For instance, your doctor can help you assess your health history. Certain health conditions could have an impact on your pregnancy, so it’s vital that you know what steps or precautions to take while trying to conceive and after you become pregnant. Your doctor might also want to discuss any vaccines you need, medications you’re currently taking, and any previous pregnancy issues you’ve experienced. With this information in hand, your physician can help you best reduce the likelihood of birth defects or other pregnancy complications.
- Begin Taking Folic Acid
This is an easy step to overlook, but it is surprisingly important for preconception health. If you don’t have enough folic acid in your body during the month before pregnancy and during the pregnancy itself, your baby is at increased risk for birth defects. In particular, a lack of folic acid can lead to birth defects of the brain and spine. Try to take 400 milligrams of folic acid on a daily basis while trying to conceive.
- Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Recreational Drugs
Even before you conceive, drinking, smoking, and substance use can still have an impact on your baby. For example, substance toxicity could put your baby at an increased risk for birth defects, premature birth, and infant death. If you are currently struggling with alcohol or substance dependency, seek help before attempting to get pregnant.
- Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Mothers who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, as well as a variety of other health problems. Similarly, being underweight can increase the risk of health issues during pregnancy. In order to reach a healthy weight, try to include regular physical activity and healthy eating into your lifestyle.
- Receive Genetic Testing
As mentioned above, genetic testing can be highly beneficial before trying to conceive. Testing can enable you to be more prepared for what’s ahead, especially if you discover that your baby is at risk for a genetic condition. Undergoing carrier screening can help you begin planning for pregnancy and childbirth long before you become pregnant.
Ensure Your Health Long Before You Conceive
Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle with attention to each of the above factors is crucial to boost your chances of conceiving and ensure the best outcome possible for your future pregnancy. Perhaps even more importantly, taking care of your health can increase the likelihood of a healthy baby. Take the steps above to prepare for the conception, pregnancy, and childbirth processes long before they begin so that you can ensure a happy, healthy family.