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Health: Start your pregnancy off right with a pre-pregnancy consultation

by on September 04, 2020 7:14 AM

One of the best things about being an obstetrician is that seeing my patients so many times over a nine-month period lets me get to know them very well.

Every pregnancy is special – and unique. Whenever possible, I like to set up a pre-pregnancy consultation to get basic medical information from a woman who is hoping to become pregnant. These visits help me determine if there are potential risk factors and let me plan for possible interventions so she and her baby can have the best possible experience and outcome.

Risk factors can include anything from advanced maternal age – considered 35 and older – to a history of diabetes or other medical conditions. Has this woman miscarried in the past? Is she having trouble getting pregnant? One very important subject we discuss is medication. Some drugs that help control diabetes or hypertension are fine for an adult, but are not good for a developing baby. This is our opportunity to make changes to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. The same is true for seizure medication, where multiple medications are sometimes prescribed, but should be streamlined for the duration of the pregnancy for the good of mother and child.

Once we know the risk factors, we can make sure a woman delivers in the right place. Here in Port Matilda, we have three physicians, six midwives, and two mid-level providers. If a woman is not considered to be high-risk, she’ll be seen by everyone in the practice at some point in her journey. If she wishes to stay in Port Matilda, her baby will be delivered by one of the doctors. If she prefers to deliver with a midwife, she can do that in Lewistown, which is just 45 minutes away.

If the pregnancy is considered high-risk, she’ll work exclusively with one of our physicians. She will also benefit from having the whole Geisinger system to support her. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our clinic was equipped with telemedicine technology. A mother-to-be can stay right here in State College and consult through video visits with neonatologists and other maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

Another benefit of being part of the Geisinger system is that if an unforeseen emergency occurs, mother and child can be taken immediately by Life Flight to Danville, where a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is waiting.

Luckily, these situations don’t happen often. Most pregnancies progress normally, with mothers hitting all the regular milestones and giving birth to healthy babies, surrounded by family and loved ones. I’ve delivered thousands of babies, and it’s a joy to see every time.

Beginning your journey to childbirth with a pre-pregnancy consultation can help start you off on the right track. If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, I encourage you to make an appointment with me or one of my colleagues. Call 800-230-4565 to get started.


Samuel Owusu, MD, is an obstetrics and gynecology physician at Geisinger Gray’s Woods.


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