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Prepare For Pregnancy With a Preconception Checkup

Prepare For Pregnancy With a Preconception Checkup

If you’re planning on getting pregnant, the best way to prepare for your future pregnancy is to schedule a preconception checkup. Caring for your health before you become pregnant is good for you and your baby. The goal is to check for any potential risks to you and your baby during pregnancy and to address any medical issues you may have before you get pregnant.

Make a preconception check appointment with your health care provider to get started. Here is what you may expect from such an appointment, the topics that you may discuss, or checks that your doctor might carry out.

Birth control – you should discuss with your doctor when to stop using birth control and how long you should wait before trying to conceive.

Your menstrual cycles – you’ll discuss the date of your last period and length of your cycles to discuss your fertility identify your fertile window. Your doctor may even discuss how to chart menstrual cycles to help detect ovulation and determine the time when you are most likely to get pregnant.

Reproductive history - discuss any previous pregnancies, previous pap smear test results, and any STDs or vaginal infections you've had in the past.

Medical and surgical history - discuss any health problems you have now, so you can get them under control before you get pregnant. Tell your doctor about any past serious illnesses and whether you have had any surgeries, transfusions, and hospitalizations. It is especially important to inform your doctor of any gynecologic surgeries you may have had. The good news is that with the right care and precautions, even the most chronic conditions are possible to monitor or get under control so that you can have a healthy pregnancy.

Your recent travel - let your doctor know if you have travelled to a location where infectious diseases are prevalent. For example, if you or your partner have recently traveled to an area with Zika virus, you may want to discuss whether you should wait before trying to conceive.

Your diet and lifestyle habits - discuss your diet and whether you drink, smoke, or take any recreational drugs.  You may have a discussion in order to find ways to boost your fertility through possible diet and lifestyle changes if any are needed.
It's ideal to go into pregnancy with good dietary habits already in place. That includes eating a variety of foods rich in fiber, and getting enough calcium, folic acid, and other nutrients. Before you get pregnant, your doctor may recommend limiting caffeine to no more than 300 milligrams (mg) per day.

Current medications - tell your doctor about any prescription, over-the-counter medications, herbal medicines or supplements that you take.  Depending on the medication (some are safe during pregnancy, others may not be), a change may be needed.

Family health history -  tell your doctor about any medical conditions that run in your family, such as diabetes, hypertension, or history of blood clots.

Home and workplace environment -  you'll talk about possible hazards such as exposure to animals, X-rays, lead or solvents that could affect your ability to become pregnant or maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Your weight - it's a good idea to reach your ideal BMI before you get pregnant. This means losing weight if you are overweight to reduce your risk of complications during pregnancy; or gaining weight if you are underweight to reduce the risk of delivering a low birth-weight baby.

Exercise - Tell your doctor i fand what type of exercise you do. Generally, you may continue your normal exercise routine while pregnant unless you are instructed to change it.

Prenatal vitamins - Before you're pregnant, you should be taking a folic acid supplement. Folic acid makes it less likely that your baby will have a neural tube defect, and it's best to start taking it before you conceive. The generally recommended amount is 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily before conception and in early pregnancy.

Physical Exams -  your doctor may do various physical checks to evaluate your heart, lungs, breasts, thyroid, and abdomen. A pelvic exam and pap smear test may also be performed. You may also be screened for any gynecological conditions that might interfere with fertility or pregnancy, such as irregular periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, cysts, benign tumors, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Blood and Urine tests - Some of the conditions screened may include rubella, hepatitis, HIV, syphilis, anemia,vitamin D levels, Rh factor (to see if you are positive or negative), varicella (to check for immunity to chicken pox), thyroid function and sexually transmitted diseases.

Check on your vaccinations – your doctor may want to check that your vaccinations are up to date. If you are not protected against rubella or chickenpox, your doctor may recommend the appropriate vaccines and delaying attempts to conceive for at least one month.

Discuss genetic counseling - genetic counseling can help you understand your chance of having a child with a birth defect. It may be advised for older mothers and people with a family history of genetic problems, birth defects, or intellectual disability.

Finally, plan a trip to the dentist - as once you are pregnant you have a greater risk of tooth decay and gingivitis. Having a check up before pregnancy is a good idea to resolve any existing problems up front.

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