Dr. Mollie Cecil

Are you thinking about your goals for having or not having children? If so, your primary care provider can help you come up with best practices that fit your lifestyle and boost your overall wellness. One of the best ways to prevent an unplanned pregnancy and improve pregnancy outcomes is to develop a reproductive life plan. WVU Medicine primary care provider Mollie Cecil, MD, discusses this goal-setting tool.

What is a reproductive life plan?
It’s a structured plan that helps you prepare to have or not have children in the healthiest way for you and your family. Reproductive life plans differ for each person based on your individual goals.

Your primary care provider will ask you a series of questions to help you develop your reproductive life plan:

  • Do you plan on having children? If so, how many and when?

  • If you don’t plan on having children now or in the future, how will you prevent pregnancy?

  • Do you have any chronic health conditions?

  • Do any congenital diseases run in your family?

  • What medications do you take?

  • What are your diet and exercise habits like right now?

  • When was your last Pap smear and breast exam?

Your primary care provider will help you use this information to form your reproductive life plan:

  • Family planning – Your provider can help advise you on the healthiest time to have a baby, and assist you with safe contraception if having a baby isn’t in your plans right now. Your provider can prescribe birth control pills or insert IUDs and hormonal implants for long-acting, reversible contraception.

  • Genetic counseling – If conditions, such as birth defects or cystic fibrosis, run in your family, your primary care provider will discuss your risk of passing these conditions on to your baby and refer you to genetic specialists, if necessary, prior to conception.

  • Healthy weight – Your primary care provider will work with you on diet and exercise to make sure that you are at a healthy weight before pregnancy. Being overweight or obese can make pregnancy more difficult and increase complications, and a lack of exercise can make bone and joint aches worse during pregnancy.

  • Nutrition – Your diet needs to change when you are pregnant, and adjusting your diet before pregnancy improves outcomes for your baby. Folic acid is critical in preventing major brain and spine defects in the growing baby, and low iron levels are common. Your primary care provider will work with you to determine what diet changes and supplements you need.

  • Chronic health conditionsMood problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, tobacco use, and alcohol use can all seriously affect the health of a developing baby. Your primary care provider will work with you to control these conditions and pick medications that are safe for your baby and effective for you.

  • Immunizations – Maternal immunizations are very important. Having immunity against rubella can prevent serious birth defects in your baby.

  • Health maintenance – Detecting precancerous and cancerous changes prior to pregnancy can save your life and your baby’s life. If you are due for a screening, your family doctor can perform a Pap smear and a breast exam before you get pregnant to ensure a clean bill of health prior to conceiving.

Talk with your primary care provider today about your childbearing plans, and he or she will work with you to make sure that you have babies when, and if, it’s right for you, all while focusing on healthy outcomes.