Should one plan pregnancy?
In those days when the “Bahu” got pregnant the elders used to say ‘God has opened his eyes” and celebrate the event. Even now the concept of planning a pregancy has not caught up in India. It just happens one fine morning by ‘His’ grace and in a typical movie setting the “Bahu” faints and the doctor after checking the pulse says “Congratulations. You have become father” to the innocent looking husband. By the way I am yet to crack the pulsus pregnantus!….
But in the developed world they often plan the pregnancy. They dont like a baby as a pleasant surprise or as an accident. In otherwords they use some contraceptive method from the time of marriage and when the social / financial conditions are suitable they stop the contraception or plan a baby.
In addition to social and financial factors, there are several other reasons for planning pregnancy. One such is planning pregnancy from the point of view of preventing anomalies. Organ formation in the fetus is completed by 5-8 weeks following conception. However a lady often detects pregnancy only after this (pregnancy test is often done when periods are skipped for more than 6-8 weeks), thereby missing the golden chance to prevent anomalies.
Planning pregnancy helps one to take precautions. Avoiding exposure to chemicals, unnecessary medication, smoking, drinking etc are best practiced during conception rather than after confirming pregnancy. Folic acid vitamins supplements likewise should be consumed when one starts planning pregnancy. This helps a long way in reducing neural tube defects in fetus.
In a country like India, where pregnancy planning is not routine, all married women of childbearing age, especially the newly wed should take all precautions, so that they are still protected during conception (before the actual pregnancy test comes positive). So when you visit a wedding next time, think of gifting the bride a good stock of folic acid tablets.
Dr. Ramesh Babu
MS, MCh, FRCS Glas, FRCS Edin, FRCS Paed, CCST (UK)
Visiting Professor of Paediatric Urology
Rio children and Maternity Hospital