Preconception and Reproductive Life Planning
Preconception health applies to women who want to conceive and even those who don't want to conceive. And, it also applies to men. Whether a woman is intending to have a family or not, it is important for her to be thinking about her health. A woman's life today is full and complex and pregnancy is only one of many factors she is thinking about. A planned pregnancy is a joy to parents-to-be. Even though there may be challenges along the way, because it is planned, a couple can work together through the issues that arise.
When a pregnancy is unplanned, although it may be a blessing for some, it can be a very difficult time for many women. That is why it is important for both men and women to not only be sure they are prepared physically in the event of conception, but that they are also prepared mentally for what may lie ahead.
Managing Your Health
Some of the basic factors of the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control for preconception care include healthy lifestyle, weight and nutrition and managing conditions which are pre-existing. Women should stop smoking and not use substances that are harmful to themselves. These goals are for all women, not just those wanting to become pregnant. Since more than half of all pregnancies are unplanned, sexually active women should be thinking about their health and since they may not know they are pregnant, it would be prudent for them to avoid unnecessary risks - like medications that can harm a fetus.
A Reproductive Life Plan
It is recommended that both men and women consider a reproductive life plan. Such a plan includes personal goals regarding having - or not having - children. It also includes how those goals will be achieved, based on personal values and resources. There are many kinds of reproductive life plans and it is important for each person to think about when they want to become pregnant and under what conditions.
Along with the question of whether or not an individual plans to have children, there are the questions of when they would like to have children, how many children are wanted, and how what kind of spacing is desirable. The biggest question is this: How can they implement their plan and maintain their health now, their health during pregnancy and their baby's health?
Considerations for Reproductive Planning
Some considerations for reproductive planning that are components in the decision making process include the age of the parent or parents, the educational goals for either or both (including post-grad degrees), and career plans for either or both. Social support and a living situation that is conducive to a healthy pregnancy and lifestyle along with determining financial support are also major considerations. Perhaps the most important consideration of all is determining whether the relationship will bear a pregnancy and are both partners ready to become parents. It is recommended that in order to be successful in reproductive planning, there be healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies in order to achieve the healthiest outcome for mother and child.
Practical Application of Reproductive Life Plan
For example, a personal reproductive life plan could mean not being ready to have children at the present time and deciding to either abstain from sex or protect oneself by using effective contraception. Or, the plan may be to wait until the financial picture is settled and the relationship is secure and then visit a doctor to discuss preconception care.
A man may want to wait until he's established in business or finished university before starting a family. Together with his wife they could discuss contraception and decide upon when they would like to begin their family. Another plan may be to become healthy first or to space children over a specific period of time, seeking the help of a medical professional on birth control. Once the goals are established, make sure they are supported. Seek whatever help you may need from health care providers and counselors who can work together with you to determine what kind of plan would suit your life.