Preconception care is defined as a set of interventions that aim to identify and modify biomedical, behavioral and social risks to the woman’s health or pregnancy outcome through prevention and management. Certain steps should be taken before conception or early in pregnancy to maximize health outcomes. (CDC)
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all health encounters during a woman’s reproductive years, particularly those that are a part of preconception care, should include counseling on appropriate health behaviors to optimize pregnancy outcomes and prevent maternal mortality.
Women don’t need to wait until they are pregnant to take steps to improve their health. Reaching a healthy weight, getting proper nutrition, managing chronic health conditions, and seeking help for substance use and abuse, for example, can help a woman achieve better health before she is pregnant. Her improved health, in turn, can help to reduce infant mortality risks for any babies she has in the future.
During pregnancy, the mother’s health, environment, and experiences affect how her fetus develops and the course of the pregnancy. By taking good care of her own health before and during pregnancy, a mother can reduce her baby’s risk of many of the leading causes of infant mortality in the United States, including birth defects, preterm birth, low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and certain pregnancy complications.