Gold Medalist Dr. Amrinder, a Delhi-based leading gynecologist, and a renowned author tells us the areas that need to be looked into if you are planning to have a baby. Before embarking upon the journey to motherhood, it is only right that you make preparations for this voyage as you would for any other expedition. This preparedness for pregnancy is called preconception counseling. It involves lifestyle changes and a consult with the gynecologist. Here’s the dos and don’ts, exclusively in Different Truths.
Next, to the instinct for survival, the instinct to procreate is probably the most powerful in all living creatures and humans are no different. With sexual, social and financial maturity comes marriage along with its joys and responsibilities. The most important of these is childbearing and rearing. Before embarking upon the journey to motherhood, it is only right that you make preparations for this voyage as you would for any other expedition. This preparedness for pregnancy is called preconception counseling. It involves lifestyle changes and a consult with the gynecologist.
It is important for a healthy sperm to unite with a healthy egg to produce a healthy offspring and that is possible only if the would-be parents are healthy. If your lifestyle and that of your spouse are not healthy the time to start reforms is now.
- Remove that glass of wine from your dinner table
- Get rid of the cigarettes and ashtrays.
- If rave parties are your scene, kick the habit.
- If fast foods are your poison, do not feed it to your unborn child.
- If you can barely lug your own weight around, reduce it.
- If you are anemic and tired defer pregnancy till you feel fit.
As more and more career conscious women are opting for late marriages and still, later pregnancies problems are bound to increase. Besides diseases that develop with age (diabetes, high blood pressure) fertility decreases and the chances of Down’s Syndrome (a type of mental retardation in the offspring) increase.
Women with menstrual irregularities, hirsutism (abnormal hair growth) and obesity may have a condition called polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) that interferes with ovulation and conception. A gynecologist consult is called for.
The blood group and Rh typing of both partners should be known before pregnancy. If the wife is Rh negative and the husband is Rh positive there could be problems due to Rh incompatibility.
Sexual promiscuity is as rampant in the land of Kama Sutra as it is in the West though we do like to harp upon our conservative traditions. The fall out of premarital sex are:
- Surreptitious abortions
- Pelvic inflammatory disease → unsatisfactory sex life
- Blocked tubes → infertility
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like AIDS.
If only we checked the HIV status of a couple, instead of their social status, matched their blood groups along with horoscopes matched their blood groups along with their horoscopes, innumerable couples would be saved from unnecessary suffering.
Some of them cause malformations in the baby. Those relevant to pregnancy include:
- Hepatitis B
- Rubella (German measles)
- Varicella (chicken pox)
A Blood test will reveal immunity or lack of it to the above diseases. If the lady is not immune she should get herself vaccinated against the above before conceiving and defer pregnancy for at least a month after the vaccination.
Common chronic diseases are:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid disease
These should be controlled before conception with medicines that are safe in pregnancy. Your physician will either reduce the dose or switch over to drugs that do not harm the fetus.
Consanguineous marriages increase the transmission of hereditary diseases like Thalassemia to the off spring. Thalassemia could be either minor or major. . People with Thalassemia minor have no external manifestations of the disease except for mild anemia but are carriers and can transmit the disease to their offspring. Therefore it is important that two minors do not marry for there is a 25% chance of producing an offspring with Thalassemia major – a blood disorder that requires repeated blood transfusions. Those afflicted rarely reach adulthood.
- Complete Blood Count
- Urine – routine, culture & sensitivity
- Blood Group Rh typing
- Blood Sugar
- Thyroid Function Tests
- Rubella IgG
- HbsAg for hepatitis B
- Thalassemia profile
We have touched upon the factors that should be taken into consideration before planning a pregnancy, not to scare you off, but to emphasize the fact that it is so easy to detect potential problems and adopt remedial measures before harm is done. When a flight attendant shows you how to use the oxygen mask and life jacket, does it mean that every flight is going to crash? Similarly though, most of you will sail smoothly through pregnancy, we want to keep you in a state of preparedness for the high winds and choppy waters that may rock an occasional boat.
Last but not the least, it is advisable to take one tablet of folic acid daily at least 3 months prior to pregnancy for this simple precaution can prevent a congenital abnormality – neural tube defect where the coverings of the brain/spinal cord fail to close completely.
©Dr. Amrinder Bajaj
Photos from the internet.
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Dr. Amrinder Kaur Bajaj is a practicing gynaecologist and the HOD Obs & Gynae at MAX Hospital Pitampura, Delhi. Writing is a passion that has led to the publication of two wellness books, a book of poems, a joke book, and a memoir based on her association with the noted Indian author and columnist Khushwant Singh. She regularly writes columns, articles, travelogues, and short stories for magazines and newspapers and has contributed chapters to medical text books.