Before a woman decides to become pregnant she may choose to sit down and discuss her family planning goals with her OBGYN. This is known as preconception counseling, and this appointment between a woman and her doctor is an important part of planning a healthy, complication-free pregnancy for the future. After all, having a healthy pregnancy begins even before you find out you are pregnant.
Before becoming pregnant you may choose to make certain lifestyle changes that could improve your health before getting pregnant. During preconception counseling your gynecologist can discuss the many ways in which you can improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy. Some of these lifestyle changes include changing medications, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet, and getting regular exercise.
A preconception counseling appointment can happen at any point when a woman is considering becoming pregnant; however, the ideal time to have this appointment is about three months before you begin trying to get pregnant. This appointment will cover a variety of topics and health issues to ensure that everything is taken into consideration before becoming pregnant. Some of the things your gynecologist may discuss with you include:
Your family history (and even your partner’s family history): Everything from chronic health conditions to genetic disorders should be discussed in depth with your OBGYN during this counseling appointment. Knowing your family history can provide us with information we need to determine if there are any additional tests or screening tools that we will need to perform during the course of your pregnancy.
Your personal history: We won’t just delve into yours and partner’s family history but also your own. This includes everything from preexisting conditions and current medications to past surgeries and hospitalizations. Being honest and upfront about your own medical history is important for your gynecologist to get an idea of what your future pregnancy will look like and to take the necessary precautions to prevent complications from happening.
While your gynecologist is already delving into your general medical history they will also go through your medical chart and OBGYN history. This history may include past infections, sexually transmitted diseases, abnormal pap smears, menstruation history, and any previous pregnancies.
Your lifestyle: Your gynecologist will also want to discuss your current lifestyle, which includes your diet, exercise, drug use, and environment, to look for potential issues that could affect your future pregnancy. Your doctor will discuss certain changes you will need to make even before you become pregnant.
After going through your medical history and talking with you about your family planning needs, your gynecologist may also perform a physical exam, Pap smear, STI screening, and lab tests.
If you are planning to become pregnant within the next year then it’s time to talk with your gynecologist to make sure that there are no surprises. Your OBGYN can provide you with the guidance, support and medical care you need before, during and after your pregnancy.