Prenatal Care Before Getting Pregnant – You’ve decided it’s time to add to your family. But wait – or a few months. To give yourself the best chance for a healthy pregnancy and baby, here are some important things to do first.
1. Schedule an advance visit with a health care provider at least three months before becoming pregnant.
Prenatal Care Before Getting Pregnant
This visit gives you time and space to talk about your desire to conceive. Before you go, be prepared to talk about yourself:
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Includes previous pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths or abortions. Tell your provider if your periods are regular, your past and current contraceptive use, previous Pap test results, and if you have any sexually transmitted infections or other infections.
Health problems such as diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure can harm pregnancy. It is best to work with your health care provider to manage any health problems before you become pregnant.
Talk to your health care provider about a history of past and present mental illness. Poorly managed mental health before pregnancy increases the risk of postpartum mental illness, substance abuse, and poor care during pregnancy. Always talk to your provider before stopping any medication.
Tell your provider about all medications you take, including prescription, over-the-counter medications, and any vitamins or herbal supplements you take. Some medications can increase your risk of miscarriage or having a baby with birth defects. Your doctor or midwife can help you review your medications so you can stay healthy and keep your baby healthy. It is not a good idea to stop taking prescription medicines without first talking to your doctor or midwife.
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Tell your doctor or midwife if you or your partner work or live near potential hazards such as cat feces, X-rays, and lead or solvents. Some of these things can affect your ability to get pregnant or maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Your health care provider or midwife will check your weight and blood pressure. You may also want to get a Pap smear and pelvic exam if you haven’t had one in the past year. Finally, make sure all your vaccinations are up to date and get any that are missing.
Found in most multivitamins and fortified foods like whole grains, breads and pasta, folic acid is a B vitamin essential for proper cell growth. To get enough folate, women should take a daily multivitamin and eat a healthy diet that includes folate-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables and whole grains.
Folic acid is very important for your baby’s health. Studies show that taking folic acid daily before you get pregnant and during the first trimester of pregnancy can reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects. New research suggests that folic acid may reduce the risk of other birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate and some heart defects.
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Smoking, alcohol abuse and/or illegal drug use by you or your partner can harm your pregnancy and your baby. If you or your partner are taking any of these substances, ask your provider for help stopping before you become pregnant.
You should try to reach your healthy weight based on BMI before getting pregnant. Being overweight or obese can make it harder to get pregnant and increase the risk of complications. Being underweight increases the risk of having a low birth weight baby.
Make it a habit to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly before you get pregnant. These habits will help you stay healthy throughout your pregnancy and life.
It’s a good idea to schedule a dental cleaning, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist. Some studies have shown a link between gum disease and having a premature or low birth weight baby. Treating oral health problems before you become pregnant can prevent future health problems for you and your baby.
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Regardless of how long you’ve been taking, most women can get pregnant soon after stopping birth control.
Some women who take the birth control shot (Depo-Provera) may ovulate longer after stopping, so it may take longer to get pregnant. It can take up to 13 weeks after your last injection to start ovulating. If you haven’t had a period for a year after your last injection, see your healthcare provider.
By viewing and tracking your menstrual cycle, you can track when you release an egg (ovulate) and when you are most likely to conceive. You can use a calendar or phone app to track your periods and ovulation to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Taking the time to meet with your doctor before pregnancy is one of the most important steps in effective preconception planning.
Of course, women have many questions about the dos and don’ts during pregnancy. Although good quality pre-pregnancy recommendations are widely available on the Internet and in the literature, scheduling a one-on-one appointment in advance can provide a woman with more personalized guidance to best prepare for motherhood.
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Read on to learn about the pre-pregnancy check, what it is and when you should have it; What to expect during such a visit; And how it will benefit you and your future child.
A prenatal visit is a doctor’s appointment scheduled before you become pregnant to make sure a woman’s health is in good shape before pregnancy.
If a couple is having trouble conceiving, a fertility specialist such as a reproductive endocrinologist is usually able to provide better care. Women with chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity or thyroid disease should also see a specialist for individual counseling.
There is no deadline for making an advance appointment. Once a woman decides to have a baby, either during the next ovulation cycle or a few months into the future, she should schedule a pre-conception visit for a consultation and basic tests to assess her overall health.
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Scheduling a doctor’s visit before becoming pregnant has two main benefits: optimizing a woman’s fertility and reducing the risk of pregnancy complications.
Through early counseling and various pre-pregnancy tests, a woman is given guidance for peace of mind that she has done everything she can to prepare her body and mind for the demands of pregnancy and give her baby a healthy start.
A regular doctor’s visit before pregnancy is similar to a routine review of one’s overall health and lifestyle habits to detect potential fertility-suppressing problems early. Preconception counseling covers the following topics:
Making a plan to manage a woman’s health is the most important part of a pre-pregnancy checkup. Having uncontrolled pre-pregnancy conditions such as endometriosis, diabetes, sexually transmitted infections (STDs) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can not only significantly reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving, but can also lead to life-threatening pregnancy complications. This includes managing mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety.
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During a pre-pregnancy checkup, a doctor can also look at menstrual patterns to predict when a woman is most likely to ovulate. Timing intercourse with one’s fertile window three to five days before and on the day of egg release is key to rapid conception. A history of irregular periods or ovulation problems may indicate a hormonal imbalance or another undiagnosed health problem that may be interfering with fertility. Women can monitor their ovulation patterns with ovulation tests and trackers.
An important part of the early visit is to review the family history of inherited conditions, i.e. conditions that can be passed from parent to child. These diseases include cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia or fragile X syndrome. Undergoing early genetic testing, also known as carrier screening, can identify which genetic mutations parents carry and the risk of having a child with a genetic disorder.
Because some medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, can cross the placenta and affect the health of the baby, they should be discontinued or replaced with safer alternatives. If a woman takes fertility vitamins and supplements before conception to increase her chances of getting pregnant, she should discuss whether they are safe and whether to continue taking them during pregnancy to avoid any harm.
Although vaccination isn’t usually one of the first things a woman thinks of when writing her prenatal care checklist, it’s a crucial step that shouldn’t be overlooked. Getting an infectious disease during pregnancy affects not only the health of the mother, but also the health of her unborn child. Before becoming pregnant, it is recommended to check that a woman’s vaccination against measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox is up to date.
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Preconception counseling is also a good opportunity to review one’s lifestyle practices. A doctor can recommend proper nutrition before pregnancy, stress the importance of exercise and fertility, and provide guidance on how to stop smoking or heavy drinking. He or she can also assess whether critical conditions are present
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