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Preconception Health recognized during April

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During April, the Harford County Health Department highlights the importance of healthy habits before pregnancy with a Show Your Love campaign.

Show Your Love is a new, national campaign developed by the Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative and recognized by the Harford County Health Department, that helps women prepare for healthy pregnancies. Its message urges women to show their love for their child by first loving themselves and by adopting healthy habits well before becoming pregnant.

"Living a healthy lifestyle is a way to show love to yourself and your future baby, long before a baby is in the plans," Jean M. Toth, R.N., Program Supervisor at Women's Wellness at the Harford County Health Department's Woodbridge location, said in a press release.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the term "preconception health" refers to the health of women and men during their reproductive years. Preconception health focuses on women taking important steps now to protect their health and the health of the family they may want to have in the future. These steps include working with their doctors to control and treat medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, to eliminate use of tobacco and alcohol beverages, to become more physically active, and to make healthy food choices.

"While most women realize the significance of improving their health once they become pregnant, many women do not know that improving their health before pregnancy, even long before it's a consideration, is also essential for the health of a mother-to-be and her baby," Dr. Russell Moy, Deputy Health Officer of the Harford County Health Department, said in a press release.

"Our goal is to ensure that every woman who hopes to become a mother one day understands the importance of preconception health. By taking steps to improve her health before pregnancy, a woman can experience long lasting benefits for herself and her future children. For those women who don't want to start a family, our message is that they, too, should be healthy, should love and take care of themselves. By making this their priority, they will increase their chances of achieving their goals and dreams," said Toth said.

The Show Your Love campaign focuses on women during their childbearing years, between the ages of 18 and 44. and is designed to speak both to women who are planning to become pregnant, as well as those for whom pregnancy may not be in their immediate plans. The program has developed a series of educational materials for women including: video and radio public service announcements, posters, a checklist of healthy habits, as well as online ads, and a kit for organizations interested in supporting the campaign by helping spread the word about the importance of preconception health.

For more information on the Show Your Love campaign, visit the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov/preconception/showyourlove or call Women's Wellness at Woodbridge at 410-612-1768.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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