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When it comes to pregnancy time frames, it’s common for people to refer to the first three months after falling pregnant as “the fourth trimester”. With this in mind, I like to refer to the months prior to conception as the “pre-mester”. It’s a window which represents a golden opportunity not only to get your body ready for a baby, but to also lay down some foundations to give your future child a healthy start in life.

What should I do if I’m planning a pregnancy?
In Singapore, most pregnancies are planned, so we make full use of this by inviting women to visit us for a pre-pregnancy counselling assessment before they start trying to conceive. Many health conditions can be affected by pregnancy, and conversely, there are conditions (and the medication used to treat them) that may also affect a growing baby. It’s crucial for those with conditions such as depression, anxiety, asthma, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, and more, to consider a relaxed chat and check-in to assess any issues.

What if I don’t have a medical condition?
Even if you feel well, a check-in prior to pregnancy is still an important step. Really common issues such as being deficient in essential vitamins, having an undetected thyroid problem, and lacking immunity can all be detected and treated before conception. It’s also a good time to check your BMI: being overweight or underweight can increase pregnancy risks. Addressing this beforehand is key.

Are there lifestyle factors I should be aware of?
Your diet in the “pre-mester” period can affect your fertility, wellbeing, and the health of the baby. This isn’t the time for any eating fads that exclude whole food groups. There’s evidence that doing a ketogenic or low carbohydrate diet in pregnancy results in smaller babies. Diets very high in carbohydrates and low in protein can also affect foetal growth and put you at risk of developing gestational diabetes.

We also know that staying active in pregnancy (150 mins/week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity) results in better outcomes for you and your child, including a higher chance of a smoother and uncomplicated delivery and recovery.

What’s the deal with alcohol?
Medical experts recommend abstaining from alcohol completely during pregnancy. However, conceiving can take time (up to a year for many) and may be associated with increased anxiety. I think the antidote to this is trying to maintain as ‘normal’ a life
as possible with a healthy slant, so you’re not completely overtaken trying to conceive. Women can still drink alcohol during this time, just remember to be sensible!

Dr Natalie Hutchins is a British GP doctor with a background in obstetrics and gynecology. She is passionate about women’s health. Dr Hutchins is based in Osler’s Star Vista clinic. Tel: 6339 2727.


For more information
Visit our website or make an appointment to learn how we can help you to take control of your own health and wellbeing. osler-health.com