The fact that a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy is important is certainly not news, but according to a recent article, how healthy you are at the time you conceive could actually affect your entire pregnancy.
The information comes from Nursing for Women’s Health, the journal of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, and it emphasizes the frightening increase in pregnancy complications and mortality rates among expecting mothers in recent years.
This is an interesting approach to pregnancy health. Previously, women have known that their chances of conceiving could be increased by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and of course most women begin paying closer attention to their health once they learn they are pregnant.
For women experiencing unexpected pregnancies, though, lifestyle changes after conception may not be enough. Among the statistics cited in the article — which compared numbers compiled in 1999 to those compiled in 2005 — the most startling was a 92% increase in necessary blood transfusions.
The article also reports that during the same time period incidences of renal failure in pregnant mothers rose by 21%, while pulmonary embolism saw a 52% increase. Most startling: as of 2007, 12.7 out of every 100,000 live births in the United States proved fatal for the mother.
Women who are planning to become pregnant have the opportunity to take appropriate measures and make the necessary lifestyle changes to ensure a healthy pregnancy. When a pregnancy is unplanned though, the mother may be living a high-stress lifestyle or participating in unhealthy habits without considering the effects those choices could have on a prospective pregnancy.
In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a full 49% of pregnancies in the United States in 2011 were unplanned. In light of these numbers, the CDC recommends all women of childbearing age take a few specific precautions, including:
- Maintaining healthy eating and exercise habits to avoid being either over or under-weight
- Avoiding harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs
- Using contraception when not actively trying to become pregnant
- Ensuring proper well woman care via regular doctor visits
- Taking care to screen for and maintain any chronic health conditions
- Using birth control when not planning to become pregnant
Most of what is listed here is simply good advice for all women, but the problems poor health can cause are amplified significantly when a woman becomes pregnant. Think of it as just one more reason to make your health a priority.