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Your Journey to Pregnancy

Whether you just found out you are pregnant or are still trying to conceive, you will want to do everything you can to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Among the factors that play a role in achieving this goal include the foods and beverages you consume, your level of physical activity, your medical history and the medications you take, and your prenatal care plan.

The inability to conceive a child is known as infertility. If you are trying to get pregnant and have not been able to do so, it may be time to seek assistance from a medical expert. About 1 in 6 couples in Canada experience infertility, and its prevalence has approximately doubled since the 1980s. In 40% of cases, the cause can be traced to the female, 30% of cases are linked to the male, and 20% of cases are due to a combination of factors affecting both partners. In about 10% of cases, no specific cause can be identified, making it a complex condition to treat.

When to Seek Help

Approximately 80% of couples who have sex two to three times a week will become pregnant within one year. Most of the other 20% will become pregnant within two years. However, some couples may require medical assistance to conceive. Women ages 35 or under who have been trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant for at least a year and women over age 35 who have been trying for at least 6 months, should seek medical advice from a professional. Don’t delay. A woman’s ability to conceive decreases from 91% at age 30, to 77% at age 35, to 53% at age 40.

There are a variety of treatments available that can help address fertility problems, including medication, surgery, and procedures for fertilizing an egg and implanting it in a uterus. With so many treatments to choose from, how can a couple know which is the right one for them? Speaking with a fertility expert can help people assess their personal situations and determine the best course of action.

Preconception Counselling

One way of assessing fertility health is preconception counselling, because the foundation of a healthy pregnancy is the health of the parents before conception. Preconception care involves identifying and addressing medical, psychological, behavioural, and environmental risks to the parents. Preconception counselling prepares the couple with the knowledge and skills to help them prepare for a healthy pregnancy. London Drugs Fertility Specialty Pharmacists can provide information, guidance, or a comprehensive Fertility Health Review to help navigate the journey to pregnancy and healthy childbirth.

To learn more about this service or to make an appointment for an in-depth discussion that will address your questions, needs, and concerns, speak with your London Drugs pharmacist, email your general questions to fertilityconsult@londondrugs.com, or visit www.londondrugs.com/fertility.

Nutrition and Pregnancy

Your nutritional intake, both before and during pregnancy, has a significant influence on the health of your developing baby. Eating well and following Canada’s Food Guide provide nutrients that are essential for you and your unborn child. It is important to take a daily prenatal supplement that contains folic acid. Folic acid is necessary for the healthy development of your baby’s spine, brain, and skull. A supplement that contains 0.4 mg (sometimes identified as 400 mcg) of folic acid is recommended for most women, although some women may require more. Your doctor will advise how much you need.

Iron is also important for your baby’s development. A prenatal supplement containing 16 mg to 20 mg of iron is recommended, but it’s important to note that some foods and medications can decrease iron absorption. For example, calcium supplements, antacids, and even caffeinated coffee or tea can reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron. Therefore, it is best to separate these from your supplement by at least two hours. In addition to making sure your diet includes the healthy foods that will provide the nutrition you and your baby need, there are also foods and beverages that you should not consume during pregnancy. Your healthcare provider can guide you in making healthy choices.

Physical Activity

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and that’s true during pregnancy as well. Staying active can help increase your energy level, improve sleep, prevent excess weight gain, and build the strength you will need for labour and delivery of your baby. Before beginning any exercise program, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider to make sure that there are no medical reasons why exercise would not be right for you. Once you get the approval to exercise, discuss the type of activities that would be appropriate for you.

Medical Checkups

Prenatal care (medical care you get during pregnancy) plays a critical role in safeguarding your health and the health of your developing baby. As soon as you know you are pregnant, call your doctor to set up a schedule for prenatal checkups, and keep all of the appointments even if you are feeling fine. It is important to review your immunization history with your healthcare team. Making sure your vaccinations are up-to-date will help protect both you and your baby. Your London Drugs pharmacists can administer any needed vaccines to help ensure that you and your baby have the protection you need. To provide the best care, your healthcare team needs to know all about you, so don’t be reluctant to speak about things that you may find embarrassing—for example, if you smoke, drink alcohol, use street drugs or misuse prescription drugs, or if your partner hurts or scares you. Let your dentist know as soon as you become aware that you are pregnant. Oral health checkups are also important during pregnancy. Hormonal changes in your body can increase your risk of gingivitis (gum disease) and periodontitis (infection of the bone that supports your teeth). Periodontitis has been linked with poor pregnancy outcomes.

Remember, your London Drugs pharmacists are always here for you. We are happy to answer your questions.

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