Ready to start a family? Scheduling a visit with your ob-gyn before you start trying to conceive is an important first step.
Considering that your baby starts developing even before you know you’re pregnant, a preconception visit is one of the most significant things you can do for your future child.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about a preconception visit:
What is a preconception care checkup?
The goal of this checkup is to find things that could affect your pregnancy. Identifying these factors before pregnancy allows you to take steps that can increase the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. During this visit, your health care provider will ask about your diet and lifestyle, your medical and family history, medications you take, and any past pregnancies.
Who should have a preconception care checkup?
If you are planning to become pregnant, it is a good idea to have a preconception care checkup. The first 8 weeks of pregnancy are key for the baby growing inside you. Most of the baby’s major organs and body systems have begun to form. Your health and nutrition can affect your baby’s growth and development in these early weeks.
Why is a healthy diet important?
Your body needs a regular supply of nutrients to grow, replace worn-out tissue, and provide energy. How much of each nutrient you need each day is called the dietary reference intake. You can get your daily dietary reference intake of nutrients from food as well as from supplements. However, most of your nutrients should come from the foods you eat.
Should I take a vitamin supplement?
Although most of your nutrients should come from the foods you eat, it is a good idea to start taking a prenatal vitamin supplement before pregnancy. Prenatal vitamin supplements contain all the recommended daily vitamins and minerals you will need before and during your pregnancy.
Why is it important for me to get enough folic acid before I get pregnant?
Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects when taken before pregnancy and during pregnancy. It is recommended that all women (even if they are not trying to get pregnant) consume 400 micrograms of folic acid a day by taking a vitamin supplement containing folic acid.
Why is it important for me to get enough iron?
Iron also is important during pregnancy. It is used to make the extra blood needed to supply oxygen to the baby. Not getting enough iron can be a problem for some women.
Can my lifestyle affect my pregnancy?
Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs during pregnancy can have harmful effects on a baby’s health. The time when the fetus is most vulnerable to the harmful effects of these substances is during the first trimester of pregnancy. Stopping harmful behavior before pregnancy may reduce or even eliminate the risks of some birth defects that occur early in pregnancy.
Can medical conditions I have affect my pregnancy?
Some medical conditions—such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and seizure disorders—can cause problems during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition, your health care provider will discuss with you the changes that you need to make in order to bring your condition under control before you try to get pregnant.
Can the medications I take affect my pregnancy?
Some medications, including vitamin supplements, over-the-counter medications, and herbal remedies, can be harmful to the fetus and should not be taken while you are pregnant. It is important to tell your health care provider about all of the medications you are taking during your preconception care checkup. Do not stop taking prescription medication until you have talked with your health care provider.
If I have an infection, can it affect my pregnancy?
Infections can harm both the mother and the fetus. Some infections during pregnancy can cause birth defects or illnesses in the baby. Infections passed through sexual contact—sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—also are harmful during pregnancy. Many types of STIs may affect your ability to become pregnant. They also may infect and harm your baby. If you think you or your partner may have an STI, get tested and treated right away.
Why is it important for my partner and me to share our family health histories with my health care provider?
Some health conditions occur more often in certain families or ethnic groups. These conditions are called genetic or inherited disorders. If a close relative has a certain condition, you or your baby could be at greater risk of having it.
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