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Want to get pregnant? Why you need preconception counseling

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, you may want to check in with your OB/GYN.

Talking with your doctor about your plans to get pregnant – a preconception counseling visit – can help you decide when to conceive your baby as well as make sure you have a healthy pregnancy right from the start.

Your OB/GYN will sit down with you and your partner to talk about just about anything that could affect your pregnancy.

He or she will want to understand your medical history, your lifestyle, diet, medications and genetic conditions. Then they can advise you on what you can do to increase your chances of conceiving and how to take care of yourself and your baby through delivery.

When to schedule a preconception appointment

The best time to see your OB/GYN is three to six months before conception, according to Dr. Allison Devine, ADC OB/GYN.

“I recommend this for all of my patients who are either actively trying to conceive or even considering pregnancy in the near future,” Dr. Devine said.

Why?

Before you become pregnant is the time to address medical conditions that could affect your baby. You also want to become as healthy as you can before conceiving, so your body can make itself ready for such a huge physical and emotional change.

“This can be especially important if patients have already identified a potential barrier to their fertility or if they have any medical conditions that could potentially put them in a higher risk category with pregnancy,” Dr. Devine said.

What to talk about during a preconception appointment

Cropped image of woman holding pregnant belly

Your OB/GYN will need to know as much about you and your partner as possible. It’s also a great opportunity to ask your doctor any questions you have about pregnancy.

Here are some of the topics you will talk about:

Medical history

This includes your reproductive history, surgeries, hospitalizations, and any health conditions you have had.

Family health history

Do any health conditions run in your family? Do twins tend to run in your family?

Current medications

Your doctor will want to know what medications. Some may be risky to your baby, and you may need to avoid them or make substitutions.

“A lot of times we either just need to adjust the dose or potentially substitute another medication that may be safer for pregnancy,” Dr. Devine said. “It’s really important that patients don’t just abruptly stop taking medications that they may be taking – that they contact their physician so we can go over the most appropriate way to do that.”

Any supplements?

Don’t forget to tell you doctor about supplements or herbal remedies you are taking.

ADC OB/GYN Dr. Angela Meyer says that even includes facial and body creams. Some ingredients in lotions, such as Retin-A, are contraindicated in pregnancy, so it’s important to let your OB/GYN know if you are taking them.

Your lifestyle

Do you exercise? What are you eating and drinking? Are you overweight? Do you smoke?

Your doctor may advise you to make lifestyle changes in order to get your body in tip-top shape for pregnancy.

Next steps

The pre-conception appointment focuses on learning as much about you as possible, but counseling you is just part of the process.

After talking with you, your OB/GYN may also do a physical exam, chart your menstrual cycle, check your vaccinations, and discuss genetic counseling.

Resources

About the Author

Dr. Allison Devine is an OB/GYN with The Austin Diagnostic Clinic. She writes about women's health topics, including pre-conception counseling and pre-natal care. Dr. Devine sees patients at ADC's Main Clinic location in north Austin, TX.