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Preconception Counseling

Every mother and father wants to have an infant son or daughter that is a full size at birth. Every couple hopes that a new baby will be healthy and free of any birth defect. By using preconception counseling, couples have a better chance at holding the baby of their dreams.

Certain aspects of a medical history can magnify the extent to which a husband and wife could benefit from preconception counseling. That history might contain evidence of a chronic condition or an earlier problem that called for treatment. That history might reveal information about the extent to which family members stand at risk of having one particular disorder. It could also alert a physician to a man’s or a woman’s unhealthful behaviors.

Of course, a couple does not always know for sure if the medical history of the husband or wife could put a developing infant at risk. Couples can not always be sure whether or not to seek out a counselor, prior to attempting to start a family. By looking more closely at their medical and genetic history, married partners are better able to determine whether or not they should go after such counseling services.

A man or woman should be aware of his or her past problems, as they would relate to a certain condition, such as diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure. While such problems may be under control prior to the time of conception, pregnancy can cause the appearance of new problems. For example, adult women who seem to have outgrown their asthma symptoms can become asthmatic again, while pregnant.

A husband or wife might have heard mention of another family member who had a child with a birth defect. Maybe his or her family has discussed past occasions when a loved one gave birth to an infant with Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia or thalassemia. Knowledge of such discussions should clue a man or woman into the existence of a possible danger, one uncovered by an examination of a couple’s genetic history.

Yet medical conditions and a history of genetic defects are only two of a long list of reasons that a couple should consider, while deciding whether or not to seek out a counselor, before starting a family. Many such reasons concern the behaviors and lifestyle of the partners who want to care for a child of their own. For example, any man or woman who smokes, drinks heavily or uses illegal drugs should think twice before starting a family.

A good counselor should issue a warning to a man or woman about the dangers linked to any such habits. Yet that same professional should also mention the possible dangers associated with seemingly healthful behaviors. For instance, he or she might point out the extent to which wanton use of over-the-counter medications can put a developing infant at risk. Even prior use of birth control pills belongs on a list of factors that can add to the importance of preconception counseling.

Indeed, a number of questions should be answered by both the man and wife, when a couple thinks about pursuing the advice of a counselor, before starting a family. If there is a cat living in the household, then that should be brought to the attention of a professional counselor, one familiar with preconception care. If one or both partners adhere to a vegetarian diet, then that fact too must be addressed. If the mother is over the age of 35, then a couple would be foolish to overlook the benefits to be derived from use of preconception counseling.

Working mothers should consider their work environment before attempting to conceive a child. A woman who works around strong chemicals should speak with a counselor before becoming pregnant. She would need his or her support, while explaining to a boss that she wanted to avoid contact with certain substances.

A woman who has been exposed to an unusual amount of radiation should talk with a counselor about that experience. A woman who has recently had anesthesia, during performance of a surgical procedure should alert a counselor to that fact. Even a lengthy period of travel can introduce changes in a woman’s body that might put a developing infant at risk. It is one of the many lifestyle choices that need to be mentioned, when a couple does go after some preconception counseling.

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