laughing couple on a couch

The Importance of Preconception Health for Couples

For couples planning to start or expand their families, ensuring the health and well-being of both partners before conception is crucial. Preconception care, a proactive approach to optimizing health before pregnancy, holds the key to setting the stage for a healthy pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby. Here, we'll discuss the importance of prenatal care and the steps for each partner to take to improve their health.

What is Preconception Care?

Preconception care refers to measures taken by individuals or couples before they become pregnant to optimize their health and increase the chances of having a good pregnancy and a healthy baby. It focuses on preparing the body for pregnancy and addressing any potential risk factors that could affect the health of the mother and the developing fetus. Ideally, it's best to begin at least 3 months before you start trying to get pregnant.

The Benefits of Preconception Planning

Regardless of your age or gender, preconception health is important. It can help increase your chances of getting pregnant and affect the health and development of your baby after conception. Some of the biggest benefits of good prenatal health include the following:

Reduce the Risk of Birth Defects

Although an unplanned pregnancy doesn't cause birth defects, being proactive about your health never hurts. By getting and staying healthy, you reduce the chances of congenital conditions that may affect development.

Easier Chances to Get Pregnant

Prioritizing your physical health can make conception and pregnancy much easier. However, the health of women and men is both important, so it's important that you work together as a team during your preconception planning.

Identify the Risk of Pregnancy Complications

Sometimes, when you have the information you need about your health, pregnancy complications can be avoided. If they can't be avoided, they can at least be identified so that your healthcare provider can help you monitor symptoms and decrease the risk of serious instances from occurring.

Diagnose Chronic Conditions

Preconception planning can ensure any underlying health conditions that may affect the baby are diagnosed. This allows you to receive the appropriate medical advice on treatment. This can help reduce the risk of certain pregnancy issues and increase the chance of conceiving.

Help Prepare for a Healthy Pregnancy

The first few weeks of pregnancy are important for the health of a baby, and when you take the time to prepare your body, you ensure you start off on the right foot. A healthy pregnancy starts before conception, so it's best to adapt your lifestyle and approach as soon as possible.

What to Know about Preconception Health for Women

Close to half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, which can put some women at a higher risk of miscarriage or complications. Prenatal care can help improve overall health and reduce the risk of passing harmful substances onto your child.

Important Information About Infertility

As you get older, your ability to conceive declines. Some conditions may also lead to infertility or miscarriage, so it's important to work with your doctor to understand your health better. In reality, however, only about 19% of women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying. If you're struggling, talk to your doctor about fertility testing and your opportunity for IVF, IUI, ICI, or IVI.

When to Schedule a Preconception Checkup

See your doctor or OB/GYN for a preconception checkup at least three to six months before you start trying for a baby. This gives you time to address health issues, make necessary lifestyle changes, and optimize your overall well-being before becoming pregnant.

Preconception Tips for Pregnancy

Some of the best ways to boost prenatal health for women during family planning include the following:

  • Ask About Family Health History — This will give you information on any potential genetic conditions so you can take a proactive approach to pregnancy.
  • Take Folic AcidFolic acid is a vitamin that supports the health of your baby. Specifically, it helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs). According to the American Pregnancy Association, women trying to get pregnant should take between 600 and 800 mcg per day for one month before conception and during the first three months of pregnancy.
  • Take Prenatal Vitamins — Prenatal vitamins can also increase your chance of pregnancy success and ensure that your body is filled with all the nutrients to support your baby's health after conception.
  • Lower High Blood Pressure — High blood pressure can increase your risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy.
  • Get to a Healthy Weight — Achieving a healthy weight before pregnancy can decrease the chances of premature birth, birth defects, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
  • Optimize Your Nutrient Intake — A healthy diet can help support a healthy baby, so try to eat whole, nutritious foods and minimize processed items.
  • Exercise Regularly — The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly with strength training twice weekly for all adults, including women trying to get pregnant, those who are pregnant, and during postpartum care.
  • Get Plenty of Sleep — Ensuring that you're getting at least eight hours of sleep per night can also help boost female fertility.
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Stressors — Focusing on relaxation and mental health may also help you get pregnant faster.
  • Don't Smoke or Drink — Smoking can contribute to low birth weight and uterine and ovary health.
  • Reduce Caffeine Intake — High amounts of caffeine make it harder to get pregnant. Plus, if you're used to having lots of caffeine and then do conceive, the withdrawals may be harmful to you or your baby during pregnancy.
  • Follow Prescriptions from Your Health Care Provider — Certain medications may affect your pregnancy, so always talk to your doctor and strictly follow prescriptions.

    If you have any questions or concerns about any of the tips above, always talk to your doctor. This is especially important regarding folic acid, vitamins, and any prescriptions that you're currently taking. Your doctor will be better able to provide you with specific guidelines and care based on your circumstances.

    What to Know About Preconception Health for Men

    Male preconception health refers to the overall well-being and functionality of the male reproductive system. Issues related to this include conditions such as erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, testicular cancer, and prostate problems. By adopting a proactive approach towards reproductive health, men can do their part to help improve the chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy.

    Important Infertility Rates to Know

    When a couple has trouble becoming pregnant, male infertility can be just as much of a reason as female infertility. In fact, when couples have trouble conceiving, over 50% of the time, male infertility is an issue. Preconception health is, therefore, important for everyone.

    Age and Fertility

    Unlike women, the reproductive age of men extends well into their 70s and beyond. Although you can technically conceive a child as long as you're still producing viable sperm, the quality and quantity may decline after the age of 40. This may affect pregnancy outcomes, as poor-quality sperm has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, so it's important to talk to your doctor and undergo male fertility tests.

    Preconception Care to Boost Overall Health

    We often focus on the preconception health care for women, but your partner's health is just as important. Here are some tips to help men during their reproductive years:

  • Test for sperm quality
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get plenty of physical activity
  • Avoid excessive cycling or other activities that can reduce sperm quality
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted infections
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid drugs
  • Talk to your doctor about prescription medications

To help you support your growing family, Byram Healthcare offers a wide selection of breast pumps to new and expecting moms. Browse our breast pump products and get started with our easy, three-step ordering process today.