What is Preconceptual Counselling?
Preconceptual counselling is a session or meeting with a doctor by an expecting couple before conception. Such a meeting includes an assessment of potential risk factors and medical complications that may arise during the period of pregnancy.
Pre-conceptual counselling address three key areas of pregnancy: medical, social and psychological. With the help of a multidisciplinary approach, these sessions help a couple to successfully overcome obstacles that may arise during pregnancy.
The main components of preconception care are physical assessment, risk screening, vaccinations, and counselling. For the same the couple is advised screening tests as well as comprehensive assessments and checklists.
Importance of Preconceptual Counselling
Men also play an equally important role for planning pregnancy.
So the assessment of both partners is necessary. When exposed to certain harmful substances men may face fertility issues. This substance exposure may then elevate the risk of a possible number of birth defects or risk factors. Hence, the responsible development of fatherhood is equally important as motherhood for optimal conception to take place. In comparison to women, men have lesser knowledge of reproductive health and the essential steps that they should keep in mind when planning a family. The proactive involvement of men is essential to improve the chances of conceiving. And, the preconceptual counselling helps both men and women when it comes to planning a family.
Assessment of both partners is done regarding possible use of any drugs, toxins, chemicals, and health consequences of tobacco use, alcohol and substance abuse on upcoming pregnancy. Screening for any medical disorder, family history of any genetic disorder, nutritional assessment and laboratory test for the same are done.
So it is important to go for preconceptual counselling to understand the risks and how to eliminate them.
If the couple is at risk for having a child with any genetic diseases such as sickle cell anaemia, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disorder, cystic fibrosis etc, are advised genetic counselling and recommended specific tests.
Benefits of Preconceptual Meetings
Pre-conceptual meetings benefit the father to-be in a number of ways as the doctor provides information about the risk factors and how to eliminate them. These sessions encourage the father-to-be:
- To quit smoking and avoid drugs, reduced consumption of alcohol as well as learn about the harmful side effects of these in the process of conception
- Stop usage of certain medications
These sessions also offer information related to:
- Adverse health effects by providing knowledge and necessary steps
- Genetic factors
- Mental health issues
- Importance of having a support group and a safe environment
- Emerging or undetected existing illness and their correction such as control of hypertension, diabetes and proper management of hypothyroidism.
- Advice on vaccination of women against rubella and hepatitis B.
- Nutritional supplementation like Folic Acid.
- Avoidance of teratogenic drugs.
The goal of pre conception care is creating awareness and promoting better reproductive outcome through health education, nutrition and managing risk factors.
When you are going for a preconceptual counselling, do your research and choose a qualified doctor in order to reap optimum benefits.