What to do before falling pregnant
|Over 50% of pregnancies in Australia are unplanned, exposing many unborn children to harmful medications, herbal treatments, infections and other chemicals.
Give your baby the best possible start to life. Consult your GP before you fall pregnant to discuss:
Lifestyle and general issues
· Smoking. Reduces fertility, causes miscarriages and low birthweight babies.
· Alcohol and illicit drugs. Even a little can lower fertility and damage your baby.
· Review all your medications (drugs, herbal remedies, vitamins) with your GP.
· Have a Pap smear now if you are due.
· Consider private health insurance.
· Is there a family history of birth defects?
· Are you immune to rubella and chickenpox? If not, get vaccinated before pregnancy.
· Influenza vaccination should be given if you are likely to be pregnant in winter.
· Whooping cough shots advised for both partners before pregnancy or after birth.
Folate (folic acid) is vital
· Eat a healthy, well balanced diet.
· Aim for a normal weight to improve fertility and reduce pregnancy complications.
· Avoid foods which can cause ‘listeriosis’ e.g. pate, or fish with high mercury content.
All women planning pregnancy should take a daily folate supplement (0.5mg) starting one month or more before conception. Folate reduces the risk of ‘neural tube defects’ (NTD), such as spina bifida. Some women, e.g. those with diabetes or a family history of NTD, need 5mg of folate per day.
Folate (possibly combined with multivitamins) may also reduce the risk of cleft lip/palate, limb, kidney and heart defects.
Some preparations of folate and vitamins are designed specially for pregnancy. Check with your GP to be sure you are using an effective and safe combination.
Many women are lacking in iodine. Use iodised salt for cooking to boost your intake.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.Source: Spring 2007 Edition | Page 3
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