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Live It, Change It

Preconception Care

What is preconception care?

In simple terms, this is a combination of the things that can be done to lower risks to the parent's health and pregnancy outcomes. It's all about prevention and management. Through preconception care, you recognize and take care of issues that already exist.

What is preconception health?
Leading a healthy lifestyle that will positively impact your personal health and the health of your children. This gives you the best chances for a good pregnancy outcome - whenever it is that you decide to have a child.

Things women should know:

Image of pregnant woman
  • Stress Management
    • Stress can take a major toll on your mind and body, increasing your risk for disease and/or illness
    • Stress on mothers-to-be has been linked to pre-term labor and babies born with low or very low birth weight
    • Take 20 minutes out of your day to sit down, breathe deeply and think about something positive
    • If you are faced with a difficult situation, remember to remain calm, react positively and seek support
    • Focus on things you can control rather than something you can't prevent or change
    • Get plenty of sleep. Adults typically need 7-9 hours a night
  • Sexual Health
    • Abstinence is the only guaranteed way to prevent pregnancy or getting an STD
    • Many STDs have no signs or symptoms
    • Protect yourself at all times
    • Educate yourself on birth control options
    • 50% of pregnancies are UNPLANNED - 20% of those pregnancies happen even with the use of some form of birth control
    • If you are using the birth control pill, you can get pregnant if you forget or skip a day
    • Get tested at least once a year to make sure you are free of disease or infection and follow through with treatment as needed
    • Your risk of STDs goes up if you have more than one sexual partner or have unprotected sex
    • If left untreated, certain STDs can be passed onto the baby through the uterus or during delivery, leading to long term health problems for your child
    • Women 25 and younger should get screened for Chlamydia each year
Image of toddler
  • Risky Behaviors
    • Drinking
      • Alcohol consumption is the leading cause of preventable birth defects in the fetus
      • Consuming alcohol when pregnant increases the risk of still births and miscarriages
      • Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause lifelong disorders known fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Children with FASDs may have any of the following:
        • Abnormal facial features
        • Poor coordination
        • Hyperactive behavior
        • Difficulty in school (especially with math)
        • Speech and language delays
        • Vision or hearing problems
        • Learning disabilities
    • Smoking
      • Whether or not you plan on becoming pregnant, stopping smoking will improve your health
      • Do not smoke when pregnant and quit smoking when trying to get pregnant
      • Smoking increases the chances of pre term labor, low birth weight and poor lung development in babies
      • Smoking cigarettes also raises your risk of infertility, stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
        • SIDS is the sudden, unexplained and unexpected death of a baby during their first year of life
      • Cigarette smoking nearly doubles a person's risk for stroke
      • People who stop smoking early can greatly lower their chances of premature death
    • Drug Use
      • Whether or not you plan on becoming pregnant, stopping drug use will improve your health
      • Prior to pregnancy, drug use can stay in the body and negatively affect birth outcomes
      • Many drugs reduce the number and quality of male sperm
      • Babies affected by the mother's use of methamphetamines tend to be born with low birth weight and have a smaller than normal head shape
      • After delivery, babies who were exposed to certain drugs may experience withdrawal-like symptoms. This may include shaking or jitteriness and even breathing problems
      • Marijuana use can reduce fertility in both men and women
      • Marijuana use during pregnancy can slow the babies growth and/or cause pre-term labor
      • With all drugs, there is an increased risk for miscarriage, low birth weight and birth defects in babies

Things men should know:

Image of man doing pushups
    • Family Planning
      • It is important for all men to complete a reproductive health plan
      • Men contribute 50% of the baby's genetic makeup - your health is just as important as the woman's
      • Know about your family health history so that doctors can give you the best possible care
      • Reducing stress and eating right can improve your reproductive health
        • Exercise is a great way to reduce stress
        • If you are faced with a difficult situation, remember to remain calm, react positively and seek support
      • Whether planning for a family or not, get screened regularly for infections, especially sexually transmitted diseases - then follow through with treatment as needed
      • Support your partner in any way possible. Whether it's physical or emotional, you play an important role throughout the process
      • Encourage your partner to make healthy choices in preparing for pregnancy
      • Set the example by creating healthy behaviors for your loved ones to follow
    • Smoking
      • Stopping smoking will improve your health whether you're planning for a family or not
      • Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men
      • Compared to men who don't smoke, men who do smoke have a 23% higher risk of dying from lung cancer
      • If you smoke and your partner is pregnant or you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, stop immediately. Secondhand smoke has many bad side effects:
        • For example, secondhand smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
        • SIDS is the sudden, unexplained and unexpected death of a baby during their first year of life
    • Drinking
      • Alcohol use by men raises the chances of taking part in risky sexual activity like having unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners - all of this also raises your risk for sexually transmitted diseases
      • Large amounts of alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production. This can cause impotence, infertility and slow the growth of male secondary sex characteristics such as facial and chest hair
      • In men, alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon
  • Terms to Know

Chronic Diseases

    • A disease that lasts for more than 3 months.
    • Some of the most common chronic diseases are diabetes, heart attack, stroke, obesity and certain types of cancer.?

Infant Mortality

    • The number of children who die under the age of 1, each year, for every 1000 births.

Low Birth Weight

    • An infant that is born weighing less than 5.5 pounds.
    • Low birth weight may negatively affect a child?s long-term health.
    • Educational opportunities and even the amount of money they make as an adult can all be impacted.? One out of every three children born with low birth weight end up earning less than normal birth weight children.

Premature/Preterm Birth

    • Labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies may be underdeveloped and have low birth weight.
    • Babies born before 32-34 weeks often have long-term lung and breathing problems.
    • Babies born between 23-24 weeks often face long-term disabilities.