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Preconception Care, Early Signs of Pregnancy, and Pregnancy Tests

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Preconception Care, Early Signs of Pregnancy, and Pregnancy Tests

What is Preconception Care?

Preconception care is an important part of a woman's overall reproductive health. It is the comprehensive care that women need in order to be as healthy as possible before getting pregnant. To plan for a healthy pregnancy, preconception care includes:

  • A visit with a health care provider to identify and correct any health problems
  • Updating immunizations
  • Good nutrition for both mother and father
  • A vitamin supplement for pregnancy (including .4 mg of folic acid per day)
  • Regular physical activity
  • Avoidance of unhealthy substances (such as alcohol use, cigarette smoking, drug use)
  • Avoidance of x-rays
  • Genetic testing and counseling for at-risk individuals or couples

Good preconception care is the first step in good prenatal care.

Return to the Pregnancy and Related Care page.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

The signs of pregnancy can vary from person to person. You may have none, some, or all of the following signs of pregnancy:

  • A missed period, spotting, or a period with less bleeding than normal
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tender, swollen, or tingling breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite or digestion
  • Frequent urination and urgency

Although some of these signs may be due to factors other than pregnancy, you should take care of yourself and your body if you think you are pregnant. In addition, you should make an appointment to see a health care provider.

Return to the Pregnancy and Related Care page.

Pregnancy Tests

Early diagnosis of pregnancy is based on hormone changes in the body. In particular, there are urine tests and blood tests:

  • Home pregnancy tests measure the amount of the hormone hCG in urine. They are usually able to detect pregnancy about 12-15 days after conception. The results are ready in a few minutes. Home pregnancy tests are almost as accurate as lab tests.
  • Urine pregnancy tests conducted in your health care provider's office are very similar to home pregnancy tests.
  • Pregnancy tests based on blood samples are more sensitive than urine tests. They can detect pregnancy as early as one week after conception, and they can also detect the exact amount of the hormone hCG in the blood.
  • Ultrasounds are sometimes used to confirm pregnancy and to estimate the length of pregnancy.

Return to the Pregnancy and Related Care page.


[ || Pregnancy || Informed Choice || Infections and Diseases || Quality of Care || Emerging Issues ]
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