Pre-Pregnancy Checkups: 8 Considerations to Discuss with your Doctor
Gainesville pregnancy physicians at All About Women discuss the importance of getting a checkup before conception
If you think you’re ready to conceive, wait just another minute. While pregnant, your body will go through one of the most taxing of physical processes. Making sure that you're physically ready before conception is an important step in ensuring that you have a healthy pregnancy and birth.
To make sure you're in optimal health before pregnancy, you should schedule a pre-pregnancy counseling session with a qualified obstetrician or midwife.
Some practices may also refer to these appointments as preconception care checkups or pre-pregnancy counseling.
At the appointment, your physician will conduct an overall assessment of your current health and make recommendations for improvement before you begin trying to conceive. Your pregnancy physician and midwife will probably cover the following:
1. Prenatal Vitamins
One of the first things your doctor or midwife will recommend that you begin doing is take a prenatal vitamin if you haven't already. Prenatals are available over the counter, but you can ask your Gainesville pregnancy doctor for a recommendation.
You should be particularly aware of your intake of these vitamins and minerals:
- Calcium ensures healthy bones for both mother and child
- Iron helps your body make the extra blood needed to supply oxygen to the baby. Not having enough iron can lead to anemia, a condition marked by tiredness and irritability.
- Folic acid protects against birth defects.
The Mayo Clinic also recommends you ask your care provider if you should also take a Vitamin D or Omega 3 supplement.
2. Chronic Health Conditions and Regular Medications During Pregnancy
Your physician will look at any medications you take on a regular basis to ensure that they are compatible with pregnancy. Even if the medication you take isn't compatible, alternatives are generally available that are both effective and safe for your baby.
Your physician will also discuss any chronic health conditions you may have. Some chronic conditions require particular care during pregnancy, including:
- High Blood Pressure
- Seizure Disorders
If you have one of these conditions, your doctor will need to make sure that you’re properly managing your condition before becoming pregnant.
Weight is a major concern when considering pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) warns that being overweight can contribute to and increase the risk of a number of adverse conditions during pregnancy, including:
- Preterm birth
- Gestational diabetes
- Birth defects, particularly neural tube defects.
Being underweight also increases certain risks to your baby, including preterm birth and low birth weight.
If you are under or overweight, you should seriously consider trying to reach a healthy weight range before you conceive, for both you and your child’s health. You may need up to a year to achieve your optimal weight in a healthy manner. Your Gainesville obstetrician can connect you with the nutritional resources and support structures you will need to be successful on your journey.
4. Physical Fitness
All women, regardless of their weight, should make sure that they are physically active before pregnancy, even if it’s just walking at a brisk pace every day. The Mayo Clinic recommends pregnant women aim for at least half an hour of physical activity every day. The increased physical demands of pregnancy can make it a hard time to get in shape, which why it’s best to be in good shape beforehand.
5. Smoking, Illicit Drug Use, Alcohol Consumption
If you’ve got a bad health habit, you absolutely MUST kick it before you conceive. Smoking, drug use, and alcohol can all have negative effects on a baby's health. Quitting before you conceive can ensure that you protect your baby from potentially serious health problems, including birth defects that form during the first trimester.
At your pre-pregnancy appointment, your obstetrician or midwife will check in with you about any substance use and suggest resources to help you quit if you need them.
6. Immunizations and STIs
Your physician will ensure that you’re up to date on your immunizations, particularly against illnesses that can pose a serious threat to your baby, including chickenpox and Hepatitis B.
And if you're at risk or haven't had an STI screening recently, your doctor may recommend that you be tested before you conceive since STIs can contribute to conditions like ectopic pregnancy.
7. Family Medical History of Genetic Disorders
Before you head to your appointment, make sure you're well aware of the family health history of both you and the father. Your pregnancy doctor will examine this history to see if your baby might be at risk for any genetic disorders. If so, you and your partner should undergo genetic screening and counseling before conceiving.
8. Dental Health
Pregnancy can be hard on oral health, leaving you more susceptible to periodontal disease. Your Gainesville pregnancy physician or midwife will ask if you've been to the dentist lately and, if not, encourage you to make an appointment before you conceive.
Deciding to become a parent can be an exciting, yet nerve-wracking time. Scheduling an appointment with a board-certified physician prior to pregnancy can at least give you some peace of mind that you're physically ready to conceive.
The compassionate midwives, staff and pregnancy physicians at Gainesville’s All About Women Obstetrics & Gynecology (/pregnancy-prenatal-care/) are here for you through every step of your pregnancy and beyond — we invite you to browse around our blog and knowledge center to learn more.
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, we strongly urge you contact our Gainesville or Lake City office about scheduling a pre-pregnancy checkup as soon as possible.