Preparing for pregnancy
Dr. Kelly Dale, MD, is an OB/GYN at Banner Baywood Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call Dr. Dale’s office at 480-543-6754.
Question: My husband and I are considering starting a family. What are some things we can do to prepare for pregnancy?
Answer: One of the most important things a couple should do before trying to conceive is to schedule a pre-conception counseling appointment with a physician specializing in women’s health. During this meeting, health history and other issues are reviewed before a woman and her partner attempt to conceive.
A pre-conception counseling appointment typically includes a comprehensive physical exam and an evaluation of how previous pregnancies, miscarriages, sexually-transmitted diseases, surgeries, menstrual cycles and current medications might affect a patient’s ability to conceive. Also, conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, blood clotting issues and other health concerns can cause pregnancy complications. Factors like these, along with age, allergies, body weight, body type and nutrition, all influence the success of a pregnancy, and a physician can develop a plan for managing these factors prior to and during pregnancy.
The doctor may also request certain blood tests to identify any problems or risks and will evaluate a woman’s immunization record. Vaccinations for influenza, whooping cough, chicken pox and rubella should be current to protect the health of mother and baby, but some immunizations are not safe during pregnancy.
A doctor will provide guidance on the importance of prenatal vitamins, particularly folic acid, in the early stages of pregnancy and will likely recommend avoiding alcohol while trying to become pregnant. Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, starting an exercise or nutrition plan, or adjusting certain medications may also be suggested to maximize the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Deciding to start a family is exciting, and pre-conception counseling can help prepare a couple for what to expect in the process. For these reasons, scheduling this appointment at least three months in advance of trying to conceive is strongly advised.