Sunday, 1 September 2013

Preparing for a pregnancy

Although pregnancy is a great happiness to every family, and it is better to get ready for it so that the baby will be born strong and healthy.

As i am an organised and responsible person, so for me it was very important that before i decide to have a baby my husband and I are prepared for it mentally, physically, that we are healthy enough.  Therefore I have decided to visit my local GP to discuss the matter with a nurse from a family planning clinic.

According to Patient website most pregnancies go well and without any major problems. But, it is wise to reduce any risks as much as possible. So, a reminder of things to consider before becoming pregnant, or if pregnant...

Things you should do:
  • Take folic acid tablets before you get pregnant until 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Take vitamin D supplements when you become pregnant.
  • Have a blood test to check if you are immune against rubella, and to screen for hepatitis  B, syphilis, and HIV. Ask your practice nurse to do this.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Include foods rich in iron, calcium and folic acid; also, some oily fish.
  • Have strict food hygiene. In particular, wash your hands after handling raw meat, or handling cats and kittens, and before you prepare food.
  • Wear gloves when you are gardening.

Things you should avoid:
  • Too much vitamin A - don't eat liver or liver products, or take vitamin A supplements.
  • Listeriosis - don't eat undercooked meat or eggs, soft cheese, pâté, shellfish, raw fish, or unpasteurised milk.
  • Fish which may contain a lot of mercury - shark, marlin, swordfish, or excess tuna.
  • Sheep, lambs, cat poo (faeces), cat litters, and raw meat, which may carry certain infections.

Things you should stop or cut down on:
  • Caffeine in tea, coffee, cola, etc - have no more than 200 mg per day. For example, this is about two mugs of instant coffee, or one mug of brewed coffee and a 50 g bar of plain chocolate, or two and a half mugs of tea.
  • Alcohol - you are strongly advised not to drink at all.
  • Smoking - you are strongly advised to stop completely.
  • Street (illicit) drugs - you are strongly advised to stop completely.
  • Liquorice - reduce your intake if you eat lots of it.

Other things to consider:
  • Your iodine intake and perhaps discuss with your doctor about iodine supplements.
  • Immunisation against hepatitis B if you are at increased risk of getting this infection.
  • Immunisation against chickenpox if you are a healthcare worker and have not previously had chickenpox and so are not immune.
  • Your medication - including herbal and 'over-the-counter' medicines. Are they safe?
  • Your work environment - is it safe?!
  • Medical conditions in yourself, or conditions which run in your family.
  • Screening tests for sickle cell disease and thalassaemia.

According to NHS choices website:
  • Folic acid. Take a 400-microgram (400mcg) supplement of folic acid every day while you're trying to get pregnant, and up until you're 12 weeks pregnant. This is advised due to the fact that folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spinal bifida. A neural tube defect is when the foetus's spinal cord (part of the body's nervous system) does not form normally. Women with epilepsy, diabetes and other medical conditions are recommended to take a 5 milligram (5mg) supplement.
  • Stop smoking.  Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to a variety of health problems including premature birth, low birth weight, cot death (also known as sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS), miscarriage and breathing problems/wheezing in the first six months of life.
  • Cut out alcohol. Don't drink alcohol if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Alcohol can be passed to your unborn baby, and too much exposure to alcohol can affect your baby’s development.
  • Keep to a healhy weight. If you’re overweight you may have problems getting pregnant, and if you’re      having fertility treatment it’s less likely to work. Being overweight or obese (having a BMI over 30) also raises the risk of some pregnancy problems, such as high blood pressure, blood clots, miscarriage      and gestational diabetes.
  • Infections.  Some infections, such as rubella (german measles), can harm your baby if you catch them in pregnancy. Most people in the UK are immune to rubella. If you are thinking about having a baby and don’t know whether you are immune, you can ask your GP to check.
  • If you have a long-term condition or chronic condition, such as epilepsy or diabetes, it could affect the decisions you make about your pregnancy, for example where you might want to give birth. While there is usually no reason why you shouldn’t have a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby, some health conditions do need careful management to minimise risks to both you and your baby. Have a pre-conception discussion with your specialist or GP.  If you’re taking medication for a condition, don’t stop taking it without consulting your doctor.