Most women think that pregnancy care begins when you find out you are pregnant. The latest research, however, tells us that the best time to start your care is before you become pregnant or start trying for a baby.
A check-up before pregnancy is called a pre-conception visit, and it is the healthiest way, for mom and her future baby, to begin the pregnancy. A pre-conception visit is part of making sure that you and your partner are prepared, both physically and emotionally, for the addition of your next little one. It’s a first step to understand and address any health issues that could impact your fertility, your pregnancy, or your baby’s health and development.
A pre-conception check-up is mostly a talking visit, but may also involve a physical exam
Pre-conception visits are targeted to your individual needs and concerns. It often takes the form of a consult, where your provider helps to answer questions about fertility, takes detailed notes about your health history, and makes specific and personalized suggestions for your health.
Having a pre-conception visit doesn’t necessarily mean having a pelvic exam. If you haven’t had a recent well woman exam or you have any concerns about your health or fertility, your midwife or doctor will recommend a pelvic exam. This might include checking for and treating any infections and doing a Pap test if you are due for one.
There’s plenty to talk about
Your midwife or doctor will ask you about any chronic health problems. Health issues that should be addressed with your provider before pregnancy include high blood pressure, diabetes, problems with your thyroid, asthma, and epilepsy. Together, you can make a plan for preparing for pregnancy in the setting of any of these health issues.
A pre-conception visit is also the perfect opportunity to speak with your midwife about any mental health concerns. Making a proactive plan with your provider can help you face the new challenges and stressors that can come from pregnancy, postpartum adjustments, and parenting. If you use medications to manage your mental health, your midwife or doctor can help you understand any potential impact on your pregnancy and coordinate with your mental health provider to select the safest treatment plan for you.
Some women trying to conceive can also develop stress and anxiety around becoming pregnant. You might feel pressure to get pregnant quickly, or stress around the timing of intercourse. Your midwife can support you in the pre-conception period by connecting you with resources and talking with you about some of your questions and concerns.
Your midwife or doctor can suggest lifestyle modifications that will support your pregnancy, whether you’re a first-time mom or you’re a pro. She will help you plan the spacing of your pregnancies – ensuring that your body has sufficient recovery time between each child, reducing the chances of complications. She may guide you through making improvements in your diet, especially if you are starting pregnancy with a bit of extra weight.
Your midwife will make sure you’ve had all the recommended vaccinations prior to starting pregnancy and can recommend the right amount of vitamins and minerals, like folate, that are most effective when taken before your baby is conceived.
Here is a list of topics that you and your midwife can use to guide your pre-conception visit:
- Discuss any ongoing health issues and current medications and dietary supplements you are taking
- Review any previous pregnancies and any complications with the pregnancy or birth
- Speak with your midwife about any vaccines she recommends prior to becoming pregnant
- Assess your current diet and exercise regimen and make a plan for any healthy adjustments that are sustainable throughout pregnancy
- Ask your midwife about any predispositions you may have to any genetic disorders, based on your family history and ethnic background
- Talk with your midwife about your support network and let her know if you think you might benefit from joining community groups or finding a therapist to talk through any concerns or fears you have
If you are planning to start trying, or are already trying to conceive, sign up for a Well+Prepared Consultation. It includes a check-up with a Baby+Company midwife and a visit with a health coach to focus on nutrition and lifestyle goals for your fertility and pregnancy.
Well+Prepared is a pre-pregnancy program from Baby+Company. Get expert consultation, informative classes, and 1-on-1 coaching to help you conceive a healthy pregnancy. Well+Prepared is available in all Baby+Company centers. Find the center near you:
Sign up for a Well+Prepared Consultation and Coaching visit today to receive personalized weight recommendations and help achieving your nutrition and weight loss goals.