Embarking on the journey of parenthood is a profound and transformative experience where couples want to ensure a smooth and healthy transition into this life-changing chapter and preconception counselling is a specialised healthcare service designed to provide this smooth guidance and support to couples planning to conceive. It involves a comprehensive assessment of both partners’ health, lifestyle and medical history before pregnancy where the primary goal is to identify and address any potential risks or factors that might affect the health of the future mother, the developing foetus or the overall pregnancy.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Bharati Dhorepatil, Consultant Infertility Expert at NOVA IVF fertility in Pune, explained the key components of preconception counselling –
1. Medical History Evaluation: A thorough review of both partners’ medical histories helps identify any pre-existing conditions, genetic factors, or previous reproductive issues that could impact the pregnancy.
2. Nutritional Guidance: A well-balanced and nutritionally rich diet during preconception is highly important. Proper nutrition not only supports overall health but also plays a crucial role in foetal development. Eating food at right time, right amount and right kind, fresh and eat with reverence is at most important
3. Lifestyle Modification: Counselling includes discussions on lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and recreational drug use. Adopting a healthier lifestyle can significantly contribute to a smoother pregnancy journey.
4. Identification and Management of Risk Factors: Potential risk factors, such as chronic medical conditions or medications that might pose a threat to a developing pregnancy, are identified and managed proactively.
5. Immunisation Status: Ensuring that both partners are up-to-date on vaccinations is crucial. Some infections can have adverse effects on pregnancy, so maintaining proper immunisation is part of preconception care.
6. Mental and Emotional Well-being: Recognising the emotional aspects of parenthood, preconception counselling provides a platform to address any mental health concerns, stressors or emotional factors that may impact the couple’s journey.
Asserting that it empowers couples in parenthood, Dr Bharati Dhorepatil elaborated –
1. Informed Decision-Making: Armed with knowledge about their health and potential risks, couples can make informed decisions about when to conceive, ensuring they are physically and emotionally ready for parenthood.
2. Optimised Health: Preconception counselling allows for the optimisation of health parameters, minimising potential risks and creating a conducive environment for a healthy pregnancy.
3. Early Intervention: Identifying and addressing any potential concerns early on can lead to timely interventions, increasing the chances of a successful and complication-free pregnancy.
4. Personalised Approach: Each couple is unique, and preconception counselling enables a personalized approach to address specific needs, concerns, and goals, fostering a sense of empowerment in the journey towards parenthood.
5. Supportive Environment: The counselling process creates a supportive and open environment for couples to discuss their expectations, fears and aspirations, ensuring they feel guided and cared for throughout the entire process.
Dr Bharati Dhorepatil concluded, “It is important to underscore that preconception counselling is a proactive and invaluable step for couples aspiring to become parents. By addressing health, lifestyle, and emotional well-being early on, couples can navigate the journey of parenthood with confidence, resilience, and a heightened sense of empowerment. Seeking preconception counselling is not just a medical recommendation; it is a holistic approach to nurturing the foundation of a healthy and joyous family.”