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Preconception Care

What is preconception care?

Preconception care is based on the premise that it takes two healthy parents to conceive and have a relaxed, nurtured pregnancy to birth a healthy child. Many people believe if you want to have a baby, you stop taking the pill or no longer use contraception. Then, you fall pregnant and have a happy, healthy baby. For many, that does happen, but unfortunately, for some, it doesn’t happen like that. A healthy pregnancy – and a healthy baby – has a more considered path. Preconception care is important because of the research epigenetic studies have found. Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviours and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Preconception care is specifically important because epigenetic studies have found the benefits and damage incurred during preconception can extend to at least another 2 generations.


What happens in preconception care?

Both parents need to address their lifestyle and health choices. The most straightforward and obvious are: exercising regularly, eating healthy and balanced meals, having a healthy body mass index (BMI), stopping smoking and drinking alcohol and start taking preconception supplements. In addition, stress management is extremely important as during pregnancy, a mother needs to be as relaxed and happy as possible. When a mother secretes high levels of stress the baby’s muscle’s are further developed, however, when the mother secretes a low level of stress, then the baby’s brain and organs develop better. Also, research has found when a mother experiences high levels of stress during pregnancy, their newborn babies were born with shorter telomere lengths which is the marker for biological aging. In other words, telomere lengths are similar to candlesticks and will naturally shorten over time. Therefore, it is vital a newborn baby does not have a shortened telomere to ensure longevity. In saying that, telomere shape and structure are also equally important in marking health.

How long should preconception care be?

Preconception care should be a minimum of 4 months because the maturity of an egg takes approximately 100 days whilst sperm may take up to 116 days. The health of the egg and sperm reflects the health and toxicity of the environment in which they grow. However, it is recommended that those with pre-existing conditions such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, etc. should allow for a longer duration.


Below is a preconception care checklist published in The Australian Journal of General Practice.


Table 1. Preconception care checklist

  • Nutritional requirements including folic acid supplementation
  • Advice on a healthy diet


  • Measurement of body mass index and appropriate advice


  • Advise 150 minutes of exercise per week or 30 minutes on most days

Pregnancy history

  • Screen for any modifiable risk factors

Genetic screening

  • If indicated from personal/family history or ethnic background

Smoking/alcohol/illicit drugs

  • Assess intake and provide appropriate advice

Psychosocial aspects

  • Screen for domestic violence
  • Screen for mental health conditions

Medical conditions

  • Review current disease status and medications
  • Referral/correspondence with a specialist if required


  • Assess work, home and recreational environments

Contraception/family planning

  • Offer appropriate contraception advice for those not desiring pregnancy

Breast examination Dental health check Screening for sexually transmissible infections and other infectious diseases

  • Measles, mumps, rubella, varicella zoster, hepatitis B
  • Human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C with appropriate pre-test counselling
  • Cervical screening

If you’re interested in regarding about preconception care in further detail, I highly recommend the book Building Healthy Humans by Dr Pia Martin.

You can purchase the book in the link below.

Or, if you would like discuss your preconception care in person with Dr Cindy, contact Provolution Health on 6299 2660.

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