A preconception checkup begins with a physical exam, a review of your medical history, and a discussion of your lifestyle, including if you smoke or drink, how often you exercise, and the type of foods you eat. Your responses play a key role in your doctor’s understanding of your health and well-being.
If it’s been more than a year since your last Pap smear, your physician may suggest a pelvic exam and Pap test. If you’re sexually active, they might also order STD testing. Next, your provider might inquire about things that may affect your pregnancy, including:
Prescription medications. Your doctor will want to know about any prescription medications, vitamins, or nutritional supplements you take regularly. Though rare, some medicines can increase your risk of having a baby with a defect. If you’re taking anything that might put you or your baby at risk, your doctor can make alternative recommendations and, if necessary, write a new prescription.
Chronic health problems. Chronic health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid disease increase your risk of complications during pregnancy. If you’re living with a chronic illness, your primary care physician or OB/GYN can help make sure that you are healthy before conceiving.
Family history. Some families are more likely to experience genetic abnormalities than others. If you’ve had relatives with common genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis, fragile X syndrome, or sickle cell disease, let your doctor know. They can recommend prenatal genetic testing to determine your risk of having a baby with these or other disorders.
What Happens After A Preconception Checkup?
Following your preconception checkup, it’s time to start preparing for your pregnancy. Doing things like taking a folic acid supplement regularly can jump start your preparation.
It is also important to quit using tobacco and drinking alcohol, exercise regularly, and avoid toxic chemicals like fertilizer or pesticides. By eating a healthy, balanced diet that features fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and lean proteins, your body can get all of the nutrients it needs for a healthy pregnancy.
A preconception checkup can reduce worry and mitigate unforeseen complications during pregnancy. By scheduling a preconception checkup, you can ensure that you are as healthy as possible before you conceive.