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Planning for a pregnancy: The Importance of Preconception Care in 2023

Planning for pregnancy: Importance of preconception care in 2023

Congratulations! You're considering starting a family in 2023. This journey is filled with excitement, anticipation, and undoubtedly, a few worries. But fear not! Preconception care is here to support you every step of the way. In this article, we'll explore what preconception care entails, why it's important for Australian couples, and how it can help pave the way for a healthy and joyful pregnancy. So, let's dive in!

What is Preconception Care?

Preconception care refers to the proactive steps taken to optimize your health and prepare for pregnancy before conception occurs. It involves a holistic approach that focuses on both physical and emotional well-being, ensuring that you and your future baby have the best possible start. By addressing any underlying medical conditions, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and considering genetic screening when necessary, preconception care sets the foundation for a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Pregnant Australian couple with preconception care and genetic testing 

The Importance of Preconception Care for Couples:

Statistics show that preconception care plays a fundamental role in ensuring the well-being of mothers and babies in Australia. Let's take a closer look at some relevant data:

Underlying Medical Conditions:

Pregnancy puts a lot of stress of a woman’s body. Understanding if you have any pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or hyperglycemia is important because they can increase the chances of pregnancy complications. Adequately managing these conditions through preconception care can reduce the risk of complications for both mother and baby.

Lifestyle Factors:

Making healthy lifestyle choices is paramount for a successful pregnancy. Unfortunately, smoking rates during pregnancy remain relatively high in Australia, with 9.9% of mothers smoking during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. By quitting smoking, adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and avoiding alcohol and harmful substances, couples can improve their chances of a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Genetic Carrier Screening:

Approximately 1 in 30 couples in Australia is at risk of having a child with a genetic condition. Genetic carrier screening is a valuable component of preconception care, as it helps individuals understand their potential risks and make informed decisions about family planning. By identifying any genetic conditions beforehand, couples can seek appropriate medical support and explore their options to ensure the best possible outcome for their future family.

Preconception Care: A Diverse Perspective:

It's important to acknowledge that preconception care is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Every individual and couple has unique circumstances and needs. Let's explore some diverse perspectives that highlight the significance of personalised preconception care:

Individuals with a History of Infertility:

For those who have experienced difficulties conceiving, preconception care can offer specialised support. By addressing any underlying fertility issues, seeking appropriate medical interventions, and ensuring optimum reproductive health, individuals can enhance their chances of conceiving and having a successful pregnancy.

LGBTQ+ Couples:

Preconception care is equally important for LGBTQ+ couples considering starting a family. Regardless of the chosen path to parenthood, whether through assisted reproductive technologies, a generous known donor, or adoption, seeking preconception care ensures that the future parents are in the best possible health to embark on their journey to parenthood.

Psychological Well-being:

Planning for a baby involves more than just physical health. It's essential to consider emotional and psychological well-being as well. Preconception care can provide guidance and support for couples experiencing anxiety, stress, or other emotional challenges during this exciting yet sometimes overwhelming phase of their lives.

lesbian couple planning a pregnancy

Embracing Preconception Care in 2023:

Now that we understand the significance of preconception care, it's time to take action. Here are some actionable steps you can take in your preconception care journey:

Schedule a Preconception Check-Up:

Consult with your healthcare provider to discuss your personal medical history, medications, and any pre-existing conditions. They can provide guidance on managing chronic diseases, adjusting medications, and optimising overall health to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle:

Implementing positive changes, such as eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding harmful substances, greatly contributes to your overall well-being and sets the stage for a healthy pregnancy.

Seek Genetic Carrier Screening:

If applicable, consider genetic carrier screening to assess the risks of passing on inherited genetic disorders. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions about family planning and explore options for assisted reproductive technologies if necessary.

Prioritise Emotional Well-being:

Take care of your emotional well-being by seeking support from your partner, loved ones, or a mental health professional whenever needed. Remember, you're not alone, and nurturing your mental health is equally important during the preconception phase.

Summing it all up

As prospective parents in Australia in 2023, preconception care should be a top priority on your journey to parenthood. By embracing personalised preconception care and addressing underlying medical conditions, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and considering genetic carrier screening when necessary, you can increase the chances of a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. Remember, you're not alone on this journey. Seek support from healthcare professionals and your loved ones, and trust in your ability to make informed decisions for your growing family.