Planning for Pregnancy
Each year I see many women for prevention of pregnancy as well as planning for pregnancy and pregnancy care. There is increasing evidence that optimising health prior to conception is crucial to improving short term and long term outcomes for both mothers and babies. GP’s play an important role in assisting women at this time. During consultations I strive to provide the relevant information which allows women to make informed decisions and take ownership of their health. This includes discussing various obstetric care pathways.
Having the right nutrient intake is important when planning for a pregnancy. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid for up to 12 weeks prior to pregnancy can help reduce the incidence of neural tube defects and problems with the spine. In addition, ensuring adequate iodine, vitamin D, iron, calcium and vitamin B12 prior to pregnancy and throughout pregnancy are important for the health of both the mother and baby. Most nutrients can be met via dietary intake, but supplements are often recommended, particularly for folic acid requirements.
During these pre pregnancy consultations, I also take the chance to check vaccinations are up to date and discuss whether screening for sexually transmissible infections may be required. I encourage reduced caffeine intake, as well as discuss alcohol intake, cigarette and illicit drug usage.
Most importantly I see the pre-pregnancy consultation as a lovely opportunity to spend time with my patients, to get to know them, and to support both their physical and emotional wellbeing as they embark on this exciting stage of life.
Dr Simone Dowling
Lilian Cooper Centre GP