Michael Bryan, MD, is an obstetrician on staff at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center.
Question: I am planning to get pregnant. Is there anything I can do to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby?
Answer: A pre-pregnancy exam is a great way to start.
During the exam, your physician will take a family medical history, a personal medical history, make sure your vaccinations are up to date and screen you for sexually transmitted and urinary-tract infections. Genetic testing might be ordered if your family history warrants it. It is good to come to your pre-pregnancy exam with as much information about your personal and family history as you can gather. Don't forget to bring the father's family history as well.
Along with the pre-pregnancy exam, there are other things you can do to ensure you are in optimal health. If you smoke, stop. Smoking can have an adverse effect on your health and the baby's. Babies born to mothers who smoke are often premature, have a lower birth weight and may be more prone to sudden infant death syndrome. Avoid secondhand smoke as well.
Eat well, exercise and maintain a proper weight. This is also a good time to switch your daily multivitamin to a prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid. The healthier you are before you get pregnant, the fewer risks, such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, you will experience. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, make sure you are managing them well. For more information about preparing for childbirth, visit the Banner health library and enter the keywords "planning a pregnancy."
Choosing your obstetrician is another important step. At our office we hold a meet-and-greet to ensure you are comfortable with us, our office and philosophy of care.
Also many hospitals offer tours of their labor and delivery departments. Banner Del E. Webb offers its Pickles & Ice Cream Tour so you can see the facility and meet the staff.
Lastly, once you are pregnant, childbirth preparation classes are also important to prepare you and your partner for the "big day."