Visiting your gynecologist and planning for your conception and pregnancy before you conceive will help you make healthy choices for you and your baby. Especially, if you and / or your spouse have an inherited condition, undergoing genetic counseling and testing before pregnancy will prevent you from having a child with the same genetic condition.
What does a preconception consultation involve?
Your doctor will ask you a number of questions and complete a comprehensive medical history for you and your spouse. Information about previous pregnancies, menstrual details, contraceptive use, sexual transmitted diseases (STDs), medical conditions and surgeries, previous Pap tests and other vaginal infections will be of particular interest to your doctor.
Depending on how much information is available for your case, your doctor at this point will decide what other tests may be required. If you have not had an annual well woman exam, you will be asked to take one, so we can assess your general reproductive health. An additional blood test may also be required for finding out whether you have an underlying infection (hepatitis, rubella and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), for instance).
Further, you will be asked whether you and / or your spouse have genetic conditions including blindness, deafness, sickle-cell anemias or cases of mental retardation in your family history. If any of these are the case, then genetic counseling and some specialized tests will be further arranged.
At this point, you can ask your doctor about your menstrual cycle and the best ways on finding out your ovulation day. Your doctor will explain to you the method of fertility awareness.
As part of your plans to have a baby, you will also be prescribed with pre-pregnancy vitamin pills and supplements. Folic acid, 400-800 micrograms daily, is one of the most important ones, as it prevents abnormalities, such as spina bifida.
Lastly, your doctor may suggest life-style changes such as adopting a healthy and balanced diet combined with mild exercise, quitting smoking, avoiding stress and stop taking medications that may affect your pregnancy.