Pre-pregnancy Checkup: Is It Really Necessary?
Prenatal care is essential in monitoring the health of you and your baby throughout pregnancy. However, pre-pregnancy care is just as important. For this reason, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women planning on becoming pregnant schedule a pre-pregnancy checkup.
Why See a Doctor Before Getting Pregnant?
Some couples may experience difficulty getting pregnant, which may occur for various reasons. Health issues related to infertility can include polycystic ovarian syndrome or even infection, such as chlamydia or chronic infection of the cervix. During a preconception appointment, your doctor will test for infections to treat any possible complications that may occur while trying to conceive. If you are managing a health problem, your doctor will want to work with you to help you have a smooth and successful conception process.
Chronic health conditions can also cause complications for you and your child if not properly managed. This is because during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, all major organ systems develop. The baby is also in its most vulnerable condition and is most susceptible to damage caused by substance use or illness in the mother. For example, hypertension (high blood pressure) when pregnant can cause preterm delivery and low birth weight in the baby.
It’s important to speak with your doctor before conception to ensure that you and your partner do not have an illness that may affect your pregnancy or even your ability to conceive a child. When managed properly with the help of your doctor, health conditions are less likely to affect your health and the health of your baby.
What Happens During a Preconception Check-Up?
A preconception appointment is an opportunity for your doctor to understand your health as well as any potential pregnancy risks. Your doctor will ask you for information regarding your personal medical history and that of your partner in addition to family medical history.
If you have an increased risk of having a child with a genetic condition for any reason, your doctor may recommend carrier screening. This testing optional uses a noninvasive blood draw performed on either one or both partners. The results indicate whether the individual is at risk of passing on a gene for a specific genetic disorder. Individuals may consider this option if they have high-risk factors such as:
● Having a genetic disorder
● Having a family medical history of a certain genetic disorder
● Previously giving birth to a child with a genetic condition
● Belonging to certain ethnic groups that have an increased risk of giving birth to a child with certain genetic disorders.
Take Time to Ask Your Questions
Although your doctor will be asking you for a lot of information during the pre-pregnancy checkup, this is also a time for you to ask questions about conception and pregnancy. When you are well-informed, you can take control of your health and your decisions regarding conception and pregnancy.