5 Most Important Pre-conception Health Checks

The essence of preconception care is this:
Treat your body as though you are already
Conception takes place about 2 weeks before
a menstrual period, when you ovulate
(release an egg from the ovaries). You may
not know that you’re pregnant until 3 weeks
after conception, or later in the pregnancy.
The baby is most sensitive to harm from 2-8
weeks, when the organs are being formed,
(e.g. heart, lungs, and kidneys). Anything you
eat, drink, smoke or are exposed to can have
ill effects on your baby.
Ideally, any woman should take care of her
body regularly, especially with well-woman
care, such as pelvic and chest exams. One
reason is that about half of pregnancies are
unplanned, which has greater risks of
preterm birth, and low-weight babies. By
taking action on health issues and risks, you
can prevent problems that could affect you
or your baby for a lifetime.
Both women and men should prepare for
pregnancy before becoming sexually active
(remember: 50 % of pregnancies are
unplanned) or at least 3 months before
getting pregnant. Some health issues will
take longer than three months to improve or
stabilize, such as reaching a healthy weight,
adjusting medications, quitting smoking,
alcohol and illicit drug use.
The 5 most important things to do for
preconception health
1. Take 400-800 micrograms (400-800 mcg
or 0.4-0.8 mg) of folic acid (also called
folate) every day. Many physicians advise
ALL women of childbearing age, even women
who have no intention of becoming pregnant,
to take folate because it lowers the risk of
brain and spinal cord defects. The protective
effects occur at the time of conception and
the first few weeks of pregnancy. An
unplanned pregnancy may not be apparent
until after the folate’s protective effects have
passed. Some doctors prescribe prenatal
vitamins with greater amounts of folic acid.
2. Stop smoking, using alcohol, marijuana
and other harmful substances.
3. If you have a medical condition, work with
your doctor to resolve it or get it under
control. Some conditions that can affect
pregnancy are asthma, diabetes, oral health,
obesity, epilepsy, and many others.
4. Talk to your doctor about any medications
you are using, including dietary or herbal
supplements. Get your vaccinations up to
5. Avoid contact with toxic substances that
could cause infection, be absorbed through
the skin, or inhaled. Stay away from
chemicals and cat or rodent feces.
Preconception care should begin at least 3
months before you try to conceive. Your
partner’s health should be discussed, as
It’s best to be at a healthy weight when you
become pregnant. Being overweight or
underweight puts you at increased risk for
problems during pregnancy.


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