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Before a Baby: The Pre-Conception Check Up

Trying to get pregnant is an exciting time and you probably have a lot of questions before doing so. Sitting down with a knowledgeable obstetrics provider can go a long way toward easing your mind. At Women’s Health CT, our OB/GYNs have the answers you need. A pre-conception visit is the first step toward a healthy pregnancy and baby. 

What to expect at a pre-conception appointment?

In the pre-conception visit, you and your obstetrician will discuss the elements that can influence pregnancy and proactive steps to take for optimal maternal and fetal health.  Your OB provider will want to gain a thorough understanding of your background and work with you to manage any health conditions that may affect your pregnancy. Your provider will:

  • Review your gynecologic and obstetric history.   If you experienced problems in earlier pregnancies, such as 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.  You should use the fewest and safest medications at the lowest possible dosages during this time.

  • Review family history.   Genetic conditions could complicate a pregnancy, so your obstetrician may refer you and your partner to a genetic counselor for further testing and consultation. If you are identified as having history or risk of passing genetic conditions to your child.

  • 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.

  • Evaluate vaccine history.  Some immunizations are unsafe to receive during pregnancy, so all women of reproductive age should be reviewed annually to confirm they are protected against tetanus-diphtheria toxoid/diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis; measles, mumps, and rubella; and varicella.

  • 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. Other screenings may also be done for urinary tract infections, virus exposure, blood type and Rh, cervical cancer, and high blood pressure.

  • Discuss diet and exercise and the importance of a healthy body mass index.   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.  

  • Advise on safety measures.   This includes taking multivitamins with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, as well as calcium, protein, and iron, and behavioral changes such as avoiding alcohol, smoking, and drugs.

  • Assess environmental exposures.  You may be facing environmental exposures at home and in the workplace. Certain substances can be harmful to pregnant women, such as radiation, heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides. 

  • Screen for psychosocial factors.   These include intimate partner violence and the overall support and stability in your life.

Early and ongoing prenatal care is essential for a healthy pregnancy. You should plan to see your doctor within a year before you want to get pregnant. If you do not have an OB/GYN, request an appointment with a Women’s Health Connecticut provider in your area.

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