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15 August 2022

Preparing for your pregnancy

By Dr. John Yam Pei Yuan
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
MBBS (S'pore), MRCOG (UK), MMed (O&G), FAMS (S'pore), FICS (USA)

Soon to be father hugging his pregnant wife from the back and holding up an ultrasound photo

You and your partner need to be ready mentally and physically before you get pregnant. You must prepare for the addition of a new member to your family.

Things to do

Pregnancy can be demanding, placing a strain on your body. It is important that you prepare in advance so that you will have a satisfying experience and outcome. Ideally, preparations should begin even before you conceive.

nutritional supplements with cod liver oil capsules and water glass

Folic acid supplements should be taken for about a month before getting pregnant to reduce the risk of birth defects in the brain, spine, and nervous system. If you are taking any medication, always consult your doctor as some drugs can affect your baby.

Be sure to avoid radiation (in the form of X-rays) too. Bear in mind that conception occurs around two to three weeks from your last menstrual period, so that is the time that the baby starts developing.

Eat sensibly and have a well-balanced diet. Try to keep your body mass index in a healthy range by keeping your weight in a healthy range. Women who are underweight or overweight at the start of pregnancy tend to develop specific problems during pregnancy and childbirth. Exercise moderately and avoid high-impact sports.

doctor is diagnosing pregnant women

When you are about to embark on a pregnancy, it is a good idea to see your doctor to get a medical screen. Your doctor may screen you for various medical conditions like high blood pressure and thalassemia, an inherited blood condition that can affect the fetus. Certain tests can also be done, including blood tests to check your immunity to some conditions. A syphilis test and a PAP smear are recommended.

In the event that you need a vaccination, you will probably have to wait for a period of time before conceiving. For example, if you need a rubella vaccine, doctors recommend that you don't get pregnant for about 3 months after the shot.

On occasion, women who go for pre-pregnancy checks discover that they have certain underlying medical conditions that were previously unnoticed as they did not cause any symptoms, like high blood pressure or diabetes. It is important that they get the appropriate treatment for these conditions before starting a pregnancy, as pregnancy may be affected if their conditions are not well controlled.

Things not to do

Pregnant mom holding cigarette and alcohol

Cigarette smoking causes problems such as miscarriage, placental bleeding, premature labour & decreased foetal weight. Babies born to mothers who smoke also suffer from delayed development. If you are a smoker, it is important that you cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke, or, better still, stop completely. Second-hand smoke is also dangerous; if your partner smokes, avoid inhaling the fumes.

Alcohol, too, causes problems in pregnancy, including foetal abnormalities. You should avoid hard liquor during pregnancy and minimise your intake of soft liquor. Of course, it is best that you avoid alcohol together.