Plan for a good pregnancy

LOOK AHEAD: Dr Michelle Redford, from Blackbutt Doctors Surgery, says planning for pregnancy is all about knowing where you’re at and what options you have.A ‘pre-pregnancy check-up’ with your GP is a great way to arm yourself with the right information to ensure a happy and healthy baby.

“For the vast majority, having a baby is the greatest experience of their life, but knowing where you’re at and what options you have is important,” Dr Michelle Redford from Blackbutt Doctors Surgery said.

At a pre-pregnancy planning consultation, a GPwill ask about things that could affect your pregnancy.

“For instance, he or she might ask about your diet, lifestyle, use of birth control, past pregnancies, medicines, and any diseases that you have or that run in your family,” Dr Redford said.“A GP will look at medications, ask about family history, discuss weight issues, talk about vaccines, lifestyle, work –anything that can impact.

“We have a standard approach but it is individualised to take account of individual needs – like same sex partnership, cultural considerations etc.

“People are usually very motivated and it can be a great way to get in touch with your health.”

Things a GP will discuss with youbefore you try to get pregnant:

Any medicines or herbal drugs you take and whether you you need to make changesAre you up to date on vaccinesTaking a multivitamin that has at least 500 micrograms offolateKnow which foods you should avoid and which foods are bestStop smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs not prescribed for you by a doctorUnderstand the risks to you and your baby:

If you have any medical conditionsIf there are diseases that run in your family or your partner’s familyIf there are any harmful substances in your home or workTry to reach a healthy weightGenetic counselling

If you have had a child with a genetic disorder, a family history of genetic disorders, or if you’re aged over 35 you are at a higher risk of disorders likeDown’s syndrome, thalassaemia andcystic fibrosis.“We work with Hunter Genetics here in Newcastle. Their counsellors can advise about genetic risk and help couples make informed decisions moving forward,” Dr Redford said.

Healthy lifestyle

Being overweight is a risk factor for things like miscarriage and gestational diabetesYour partner’s health is as important as yours in the pre-conception period.“Your GP canhelp you develop a healthy lifestyle andexercise schedule,” Dr Redford said. “We can also look out for mental health issues like anxiety and depressionto manage these effectively.”