A Guide to Your Preconception Visit
Thinking about having a baby? It is an exciting time, and while you might be mentally ready to get pregnant, it is important to make sure your body is ready for pregnancy. An essential first step in your journey to having a baby is taking care of your future pregnancy with a preconception checkup. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the goal of a preconception checkup is to find things that could affect your pregnancy. Identifying these factors before pregnancy allows you to take steps that can increase the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
To make your pre-conception checkup as smooth as possible, we spoke with Dr. Frederick Rau of Gynecology and Obstetrics, a Women’s Health Connecticut practice, to find out what you can expect when going into your first pre-conception checkup. Here are nine topics you and your doctor will discuss during your preconception appointment.
- Review your gynecologic history. If you are on birth control, your doctor will guide you through getting off your birth control, and how long the effects will last. Your provider will also ask about your menstrual cycle and how to determine the best time to conceive.
- If you experienced problems in earlier pregnancies, it is important to disclose that to your practitioner. If you have experienced preterm birth, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes, you may have an increased risk of the same complications in subsequent pregnancies.
- Review prescription and over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbal remedies. Give your doctor the full list of supplements, multivitamins, or herbal remedies you use. This way you can be advised how those medications might affect you while trying to get pregnant.
- Review family history. Your doctor will want to go over all aspects of your family’s health history, so dig deep into your family tree. Genetic conditions could complicate a pregnancy, your obstetrician may refer you to a genetic counselor for consultation. Your provider will also perform a carrier screening prior to pregnancy. This is commonly done at the first pregnancy visit which screens for cystic fibrosis, fragile X and spinal muscular atrophy among other genetic disorders.
- Your doctor will also ask you to take a few tests. You'll need a blood test to check your hemoglobin count, vitamin D level, and to test for a variety of other factors. A urine test will be needed to check for any kidney problems or urinary tract infections.
- Screen for mental health issues. Depression and anxiety, for example, can be affected by the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. As with any medication, those used to treat these conditions may affect your fetus, so a treatment plan should be established in coordination with your mental health care provider.
- Screen for infectious diseases, especially sexually transmitted infections. Some infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, can hinder your ability to conceive and may harm both you and your fetus during pregnancy.
- Evaluate vaccine history. Some immunizations are unsafe to receive during pregnancy. Your doctor will review your vaccine history to confirming you are protected against tetanus-diphtheria toxoid/diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis; measles, mumps, and rubella; and varicella. Your provider will also discuss your options regarding the COVID-19 vaccination. Currently, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are recommended at any time during pregnancy and prior to pregnancy.
- Be prepared to be asked about your lifestyle, such as what you eat and whether you drink or smoke. You and your doctor will discuss ways to boost your fertility through possible diet and lifestyle changes. If you are over or underweight, now is the time to ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. Your doctor will educate you on foods to avoid, such as fish that may contain mercury, as well as nutrient-rich foods, like vegetables, you may need to add to your diet.
This is an exciting time for you and your growing family. A pre-conception visit is the best time to talk to your doctor. Our devoted providers at Women’s Health Connecticut are here to discuss any problems or concerns you may have on your pregnancy journey. If you are looking for an ObGyn, check out our provider page to learn about all our doctors, and who might be the perfect match for you.