Reproductive Health and Birth Outcomes Prevention
While the reasons for adverse pregnancy outcomes are unclear, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should be assisted to make lifestyle adjustments that may help to improve pregnancy outcome. Both men and women should know their family history and discuss their risk for inherited disorders with their health care provider. Other things to consider:
- Planning and timing pregnancy may help minimize risks.
- People should talk to their provider about a reproductive life plan (RLP). A reproductive life plan is a set of goals an individual makes in deciding if or when he/she wishes to have children and under what circumstances they would like to conceive. The RLP helps an individual set personal health goals so they can be emotionally and physically healthy for pregnancy. The RLP reminds individuals that the health and lifestyle decisions they make will affect the development and health of their baby.
- Begin folic acid supplementation at least three months prior to conceiving. Guidelines recommend that all women who may be able to conceive should be on a folic acid supplement.
- Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Do not use alcohol or any drugs or supplements not prescribed by a health care provider. No herbal supplements have been approved for use in pregnancy.
- Obtain medical treatment for infections and other illnesses, including vaginal infections.
- Seek prenatal health care as soon as possible and follow nutritional and other advice carefully.
- Manage any chronic diseases before you conceive.
- Reduce heavy or prolonged exertion when the Air Quality Index indicates unhealthy levels of particulate matter and other air pollutants.
- Reduce the use of indoor sources of particulate matter, like wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, and make efforts to reduce the amount of time spent outdoors near areas with high vehicular traffic volume.
- Avoid exposure to lead. Peeling paint or paint dust from housing built before 1978 may contain lead. Pregnant women should not be present when housing built before 1978 is undergoing renovation because the dust may contain lead. Also, some traditional home health remedies may contain lead.
- Avoid exposure to mercury. Some types of seafood - particularly large, predatory fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore tuna and tilefish - may contain high levels of mercury. State health departments issue public fish consumption guidelines that pregnant women can follow. Do not use pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides, miticides, and fungicides) if pregnant. Stay away from rooms that have been recently sprayed with insecticides and from other areas with potential pesticide exposure.
- There is no need to avoid interacting with your cat. However, try to have someone else change the litter box. If you garden, be careful to use garden gloves when you work in the dirt. Cat feces may carry a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis, a disease that can be harmful to the fetus. This is less likely to occur in the feces of a cat that has never been outside.