Pregnancy Series, Part One: Planning and the Pre-pregnancy Exam

One of the first steps women, who are thinking of having a baby and want to make sure they have a healthy pregnancy, should take is to see a gynecology and obstetrics physician. The first visit to a gynecology and obstetrics physician doesn’t have to happen after becoming pregnant. Actually, it’s best to visit before becoming pregnant.

Proper health before becoming pregnant is almost as important as maintaining a healthy pregnancy. That’s where the pre-pregnancy exam can help.

Watch Francisco Rojas, M.D., gynecology and obstetrics physician at Howard County General Hospital, briefly describe the pre-pregnancy exam.

In addition to the pre-pregnancy exam, other steps can be taken to reduce the risk of complications and help prepare for a healthy pregnancy and delivery, including:

  • Ceasing smoking – Studies have shown that babies born to mothers who smoke tend to be born prematurely, be lower in birth weight and are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Eating healthy foods – A balanced diet before and during pregnancy is essential for nourishing the fetus.
  • Maintaining proper weight and exercise – Overweight women may experience medical problems, like high blood pressure and diabetes, and women who are underweight may have babies with low birth weight.
  • Taking folic acid and prenatal vitamins – Folic acid helps reduce the risk of brain and spinal cord birth defects. Prenatal vitamins, prescribed by your healthcare provider or a midwife, provides your body with the necessary nutrients that’s needed to nourish a healthy baby.
  • Avoiding harmful substances – Exposure to high levels of some types of radiation and some chemical and toxic substances may negatively affect the fetus.
  • Limiting exposure to possible infections – Pregnant women should avoid eating undercooked meat and raw eggs and coming into contact with cat litter and feces, which may contain the Toxoplasma gondii parasite that can cause a serious illness in or death of a fetus.

Look for the next post in our series, What to Expect Early in Your Pregnancy.

Francisco Rojas, M.D., practices obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians – Howard County and Odenton. For an appointment, call 443-367-4700.