HONOLULU -- Tripler Army Medical Center's (TAMC) Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) Outpatient Clinic is now offering a new preconception health class for families who are thinking about starting or expanding their family, but are not currently pregnant.

The mission of the Preconception Health Class is to help beneficiaries who are thinking of starting a family take educated steps prior to becoming pregnant to plan for and protect the health of a baby in the future.

The OB/GYN staff wants to make sure the mother and baby enjoy a healthy life before, during and after the pregnancy.

The class will offer evidence-based strategies to help reduce the risks of birth defects, fetal loss, low birthweight and avoiding pre-term deliveries.

Maj. Manushka Angoy, Chief Nurse and Officer in Charge, TAMC OB/GYN Outpatient Clinic, "We saw the need for a class that spoke to women and families who are interested in becoming pregnant, but don't know where to begin."

Angoy's vision for the new Preconception Health Class fulfills the OB/GYN clinic's mission to provide optimal health care to all female beneficiaries while training the future leaders of our profession in the premier training program in the Army system.

The class is not just open to women, although the classes will most benefit women of childbearing age; family members who want to learn more about what to do before becoming pregnant are also welcome.

"The most important point to know about preparing to have a baby is to make sure your health is optimized as much as possible before becoming pregnant," says Angoy. "This includes regular check-ups with your provider."

Beneficiaries who attend the class will learn about nutrition, folic acid supplementation, smoking cessation, alcohol intervention, STI screening, behavioral and lifestyle modifications including weight control, and preconception vaccinations and well-being.

This is also a great time to meet other women who are thinking about starting a family, which could build into a support system during and after a pregnancy.

Understanding what it takes to have the healthiest pregnancy possible before you get pregnant can drastically reduce the rates of both unintended pregnancies and congenital diseases and disorders. Improving the health and lives of infants and children starts with improving the health and lives of our mothers.

If you are thinking about how to prepare your body and mind for a healthy pregnancy, this class is for you.

Classes are held every first Wednesday of the month at 11:00 a.m. Please call the appointment line at 433.2778, ext. 7, then 1, to schedule your spot.