One reason preconception health is important is that half of all pregnancies are not planned. Unplanned pregnancies are at greater risk of preterm birth and low birth weight babies. Another reason is that, despite important advances in medicine and prenatal care and research, about 1 in 8 babies is born too early.
By taking action on health issues and risks before pregnancy, you can prevent problems that might affect you or your baby later.
AHN believes women and men should prepare for pregnancy before becoming sexually active — at least three months before getting pregnant. Some actions, such as quitting smoking, reaching a healthy weight or adjusting medicines you are using, should start even earlier. The five most important things you can do for preconception health are:
Your partner can and should support and encourage you in every aspect of preparing for pregnancy. Make the decision about pregnancy together. When both partners intend for a pregnancy to happen, a woman is much more likely to get early prenatal care and avoid risky behaviors like smoking and drinking alcohol.
Five things a partner can do to help his or her partner’s healthy pregnancy:
Genetic counseling gives information and support to people who have — or may be at risk of — genetic disorders. Some reasons a person or family might seek genetic counseling are:
Allegheny Health Network genetics professionals can meet with a person or family before or during pregnancy to discuss genetic risks or to diagnose, confirm or rule out a genetic condition. Most of the time, testing can find changes linked to genetic disorders. The results can confirm or rule out a genetic condition. Tests can also help to know the chances that a person will get or pass on a genetic disorder. Our genetics professionals can help you decide if genetic testing is the right choice for you.
We also offer a variety of screening vehicles to make sure your pregnancy is a healthy one:
Our geneticists and OB/GYN physicians are board-certified in clinical genetics. Our perinatologists (specialists in maternal-fetal medicine) are also available for consultation for general genetic issues and for guidance in cases of discovered birth defects.