Deciding to start or expand your family is one of the most exciting times in your life!
It can also be one of the most nerve-racking. That’s why it’s so essential to confirm you’re properly caring for your health before you become pregnant to both settle those nerves, and ensure you’re building the right foundation for both you and for your future baby.
This is called Preconception Care, and talking with your doctor is one of the best ways to check for any potential risks or medical issues you may have before getting pregnant. Before you begin, you should start by setting a “Preconception appointment” with your doctor.
What Will My Doctor Review with Me During My Preconception Visit?
During your preconception appointment, your doctor should discuss histories related to medical, surgical, family (of both you and future dad), and reproductive histories.
She/He should also talk about your diet & exercise, alcohol & caffeine consumption (or other drugs/stimulants), along with any medications or supplements you may be taking.
Your preconception visit is really the perfect time to ask your doctor anything that may be on your mind. Whether it’s health concerns, past histories, sex, diet, or prenatal vitamins, this visit is all about you and your health. It’s so much about you, that it’s worth saying again.
Preconception Care is all about you, and your doctor is on your side to help you give birth to a beautiful baby.
Because you’re about to embark on this exciting new journey, a physical exam is one of the best ways to ensure you’re ready. You should also ask her/him about a pelvic exam or Pap smear.
If you’re not vaccinated for chickenpox or rubella (or you’re not sure), it’s essential to ask your doctor to check your medical records, and if you’re not, request a vaccine. If you develop chickenpox or rubella during pregnancy, you are at higher risk of developing pneumonia, or congenital disabilities (birth defects). While a vaccine may delay your attempts to conceive by a month or so, it will be well worth it in the end if you’re not vaccinated.
This may require a separate appointment with a genetic counselor, however, it will help you understand your family’s risk of passing on an inherited medical condition, and how easy it may be for you to conceive.
Even before you become pregnant, it’s important to start to think about taking a prenatal vitamin or at least increasing your consumption of Folate & Iron-rich foods such as Leafy Greens or Broccoli every day. Along with several other vitamins and minerals, Folate, in particular, plays a significant role during pregnancy, as it aids in neural tube development, and its importance starts the day you conceive (when you may not know you’re pregnant yet).
Similar to Genetic Counseling, getting a firm grasp on your diet may require a separate appointment with a nutritionist, but remember, “we are what we eat”, and you’ll soon be eating for two! Understanding the right foods for you and your potential allergies, will help give you a leg up on a more comfortable, successful journey to motherhood.
Remember, this appointment is ALL ABOUT YOU, so take a deep breath and get ready for one of the most exciting journeys of your life.