If you are planning to get pregnant, have you talked to your obstetrician or midwife yet? Or do you think you don’t need to see an obstetrics provider until you see two lines on a pregnancy test? In fact, getting a clean bill of health before you conceive can be a great first step in expanding your family.
A preconception visit is a meeting with your OB/GYN or midwife dedicated to discussing your pregnancy plans and your current state of health. At this appointment, a thorough history will be taken. The purpose of this is to identify any medical issues that might make conceiving difficult or make your pregnancy high risk. This might include a history of high blood pressure or diabetes, to name a few. If you have any of these conditions, it will be important to make sure they are adequately controlled before becoming pregnant to optimize the health of you and your baby.
Your provider will also want to delve into you and your partner’s family history. This can help identify any genetic conditions that may be passed down to your baby. In fact, there are some genetic screenings that can be done before you get pregnant that you may want to consider, such as tests for cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease.
Your medications will be reviewed to make sure they are safe to take in pregnancy. If not, your doctor or midwife will switch them to those that are. Your immunizations will also be assessed and if you are due for any, you can receive them now. If you are a smoker, use recreational or illicit drugs, or drink alcohol, safe cessation can be discussed. Any screening tests that are due (such as for sexually transmitted infections or a pap smear) can also be done.
A good portion of this visit will be dedicated to taking care of yourself before you get pregnant. Examples include taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid starting one month before you try to conceive, as this can help decrease the risk of neurological tube defects. If you are overweight or underweight, a discussion of healthy eating and exercise will be reviewed, and you may be referred to a nutritionist for more information. If your job or lifestyle leads to exposure to concerning chemicals, this can be improved before you try to conceive.
Lastly, if you have a history of any pregnancy or delivery complications, this can be brought up. In fact, your doctor or midwife may even have you see a high-risk OB/GYN before getting pregnant if the issues are concerning enough. If not, it may just mean that you’ll need more frequent visits during this pregnancy.
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, April 2020
- If you are considering getting pregnant, a preconception visit can help you optimize your health before trying to conceive.
- If you have any chronic medical conditions, it is important to make sure these are well-controlled before getting pregnant.
- You should start taking a prenatal vitamin with adequate folic acid at least one month before trying to conceive.