The decision to have a baby is one of the biggest, most life-altering decisions you’ll ever make. Before you welcome that beautiful child into the world, blessed with your perfect nose and your spouse’s mesmerizing eyes, there are few important steps. Learn why you should schedule a preconception visit to your doctor to make sure you are good-to-go for pregnancy.
During your visit, your doctor will go over your health history, evaluate any medical concerns and advise you on how to have a happy, healthy pregnancy. While you may have a many questions swirling in your head, here are five key questions to ask your OBGYN.
1. When should I stop taking birth control or any other medications?
For most women, ovulation will start within a few weeks or months after stopping the pill. But, Dr. Salina Baldwin, DO, a Banner Health OBGYN, says it could take longer.
“For patients who are on injections, like Depo-Provera, it can take up to a year after the last shot, but sometimes it can happen sooner,” she says. “But, don’t let it discourage you.”
Before stopping any medication or supplements, speak with your health care provider. Some medications, including drugs for epilepsy, may decrease your chances of conceiving. And, some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can harm the baby once you get pregnant. Your doctor may want to switch out certain medications or advise you against some herbal vitamins and supplements.
2. Are my vaccinations current?
“During your preconception visit, your doctor will want to know what vaccinations you’ve had, so be sure to bring any shot records with you to your appointment,” Dr. Baldwin says.
Getting sick during pregnancy can not only affect your health but also the health of your baby. But don’t worry, you can protect you and your little one by making sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date. If you don’t have your shot record and are unsure if you’re immune, a blood test can check for immunity. In particular, make sure you have had your measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and chickenpox vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends getting the Tdap, or whooping cough vaccine during the third trimester of your pregnancy. Depending on the time of year, you’ll also want to get a seasonal flu vaccine.
3. Will my health condition affect my fertility?
“Not necessarily,” Dr. Baldwin says. “But your doctor will run a risk assessment to see what risk factors you may have and set up a care plan.”
If you have a chronic medical condition, such as epilepsy or diabetes, your physician can adjust your medication and explain any special care you might need beforehand. You should also let your doctor know if you have a history of irregular periods, abnormal pap smears, surgery on your cervix, sexually transmitted infections, ectopic pregnancy, terminations or any other gynecologic surgery.
4. Should I change my diet, exercise routine or lifestyle habits?
Being underweight or overweight can decrease your fertility and lead to pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and miscarriage. Excessive exercising, alcohol consumption and smoking can also negatively impact your fertility and pregnancy. Have an open dialogue with your doctor about proper diet, what is the right amount of weight to gain, exercise and your lifestyle habits. If you already have a workout routine you like, your doctor will most likely tell you to continue. If you do not, they will encourage you to start. Some studies have shown that regular exercise during pregnancy may be associated with reduced risk for cesarean delivery.
5. Why can’t I conceive?
One in eight American couples struggle with infertility. Whether you have been trying for a year, or six months if you’re over 35, let your doctor know. As maternal age increases, so does the risk of infertility and pregnancy issues. The age of the father can also play a role. Your doctor can assess you both and determine the cause of infertility and develop a plan to give your baby the best start.
“I first tell my patients to not get discouraged,” Dr. Baldwin says. “There could be a myriad of issues that are causing a delay in pregnancy – from you and your spouse’s fertility to external issues. Your doctor can help set up a plan of action.”
What else can I expect?
Besides answering your questions, your preconception visit will also include some tests, including a pelvic and breast exam, pap smear, and sometimes you may also be tested for issues that may interfere with your fertility (i.e., fibroids, cysts, PCOS).
We’re ready to help you get started on this amazing phase of your life! To schedule a preconception visit with one of our Banner Health experts, visit bannerhealth.com/physician-directory.