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Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Trying to Get Pregnant

Deciding to start a family is a big decision, filled with excitement, anticipation and a seemingly never-ending to-do list.

Before you take that step into parenthood, there’s one important thing you don’t want to miss: your pre-pregnancy (preconception) appointment with your health care provider. 

What exactly happens during a preconception appointment?

“The first visit is your time to be heard and ask questions,” said Jessica Leibhart, DO, a family medicine specialist with Banner Health. “We discuss your personal medical history and create a plan tailored to you and your health care needs.”

This one-on-one appointment is also the perfect time to have all your questions answered. Along with your personal questions, here are a few you should consider asking during your appointment.

1. Are there any lifestyle changes I should make before getting pregnant?

Your provider will likely give you a physical exam and might suggest pre-pregnancy tests, including urine or blood tests. 

During this appointment, you might discuss things like your diet, weight, medical history and lifestyle changes to improve your chances of conceiving. Dr. Leibhart emphasizes the importance of limiting caffeine, quitting tobacco/nicotine, marijuana and alcohol and avoiding illicit drugs.  

Additional steps include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and balanced diet: Being underweight or overweight may decrease fertility and lead to pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and miscarriage.
  • Incorporating regular exercise: Some studies show that regular aerobic exercise, even light walks, positively influences fertility.
  • Finding ways to relax and reduce stress: Stress alone can’t cause infertility but can affect your health and well-being. Engage in stress-reducing activities like yoga and deep breathing exercises. If stress is overwhelming, consider speaking with a licensed behavioral health specialist. 

2. When should I stop taking my birth control or other medication?

For some people, ovulation will start within a few weeks after stopping birth control. However, some hormonal methods like birth control pills and NuvaRing might affect your cycle for a few months. If you have an IUD, discuss when to remove it with your provider.

Certain over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications might also affect your ability to get pregnant. Talk to your provider about safety concerns, as they might adjust your medications or advise against certain herbal vitamins and supplements to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

3. When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?

Start taking a prenatal vitamin at least two months before trying to get pregnant. 

Folic acid is a key nutrient in early pregnancy and is important in lessening the risk of neural tube defects and some birth defects,” said Dr. Leibhart. 

Between 400 to 1,000 micrograms of daily folic acid is recommended, but check with your provider about your best dose before starting prenatal vitamins.

4. Will my health condition(s) affect my chances of pregnancy?

Certain health conditions might affect your ability to have a baby. 

Conditions like irregular periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis might make it harder to get pregnant. Thyroid issues, untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and chronic conditions like epilepsy and diabetes might also affect fertility. Weight, age and your sexual partner’s health matter, too. 

If you’re worried about how your health might affect your ability to conceive, it’s best to talk to your health care provider. “Every person’s health is different, and a preconception visit will allow your provider to discuss your risks and items to be addressed,” said Dr. Leibhart. 

Check out these related articles on pregnancy if you have these health conditions: 

5. Do I need any vaccinations before pregnancy?

Check if your vaccinations are up-to-date before getting pregnant. This helps protect you and your baby. 

“Some infections like rubella and chickenpox can harm the baby if a pregnant person gets sick during pregnancy,” Dr. Leibhart said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these vaccinations before you get pregnant:

6. Is there anything I should do differently due to my age?

The chances of getting pregnant naturally after age 35 might be more difficult, but it’s not impossible. More people than ever before are getting pregnant in their 30s than in their 20s. 

A pre-pregnancy visit with your provider can help ease concerns about pregnancy or fertility and help you develop a personalized care plan. You might even want to consider egg or embryo freezing if you change your mind or aren’t ready yet.

7. How long should it take for me to get pregnant?

The time it takes to get pregnant varies widely. Factors like age, overall health and reproductive health influence the timeline. If you don’t get pregnant immediately, try not to worry too much.

“As many as one in eight couples will have difficulty getting and staying pregnant,” said Dr. Leibhart. “If you’ve been trying to conceive for more than a year (or six months if you are over 35), talk to your provider for help.”

Your provider can refer you to a fertility specialist who can help determine why you are having difficulty and offer possible treatment options to help you get pregnant.

8. What should I do if my home pregnancy test is positive?

If you get a positive line, symbol or other indicator on a home pregnancy test, schedule a prenatal appointment with your provider. 

“Your first prenatal visit usually happens within four to eight weeks after a missed period,” said Dr. Leibhart.

Your provider will give you a urine or blood test to confirm the pregnancy and determine where you are in your pregnancy. Your provider will also screen you for health conditions that might make your pregnancy high risk, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity or prior miscarriage.

Bottom line

Parenthood is a big decision. Proper preconception care can help you have a healthy pregnancy. 

Your health care provider is your partner in this journey. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and share your concerns. They are there to guide and support you every step of the way.

Schedule an appointment with your health care provider, or find a Banner Health specialist near you. 

Check out these other pregnancy-related blogs

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