Preconception care and lifestyle behaviours significantly influence health outcomes of women and future generations. A cross‐sectional survey of Australian women in preconception, stratified by pregnancy planning stage (active planners (currently trying to conceive) vs. non‐active planners (pregnancy planned within 1–5 years)), assessed health behaviours and their alignment to preconception care guidelines.
Overall, 294 women with a mean (SD) age of 30.7 (4.3) years were recruited and 38.9% were overweight or obese. Approximately half of women (54.4%) reported weight gain within the previous 12 months, of which 69.5% gained ≥ 3kg. The vast majority of women (90.2%) were unaware of reproductive life plans, and 16.8% over the age of 25 had not undertaken cervical screening.
Of active planners (n = 121), 47.1% had sought medical/health advice in preparation for pregnancy and 81.0% had commenced supplementation with folic acid, iodine or a preconception multivitamin. High‐risk lifestyle behaviours including cigarette smoking (7.3%), consumption of alcohol (85.3%) and excessive alcohol consumption within three months (56.3%), were frequently reported in women who were actively trying to conceive.
Results indicate that women who are actively planning a pregnancy require support to optimise health and lifestyle in preparation for pregnancy to improve alignment with current preconception care recommendations.
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