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Preconception Planning

Preconception PlanningThinking about having a baby? Here’s what to ask your OB GYN.


You know about the importance of OB GYN care when you’re pregnant. But it’s often a good idea to visit your OB GYN before you start trying to have a baby too. Preconception planning can help you get a healthy start to pregnancy before you even conceive.  


Many factors affect your fertility and health during pregnancy. By talking to your OB GYN before you get pregnant, you’ll have a chance to address any risk factors and potentially prevent future pregnancy complications.  



Do I need to make any lifestyle changes? 


Before you get pregnant, talk to your doctor about smoking, recreational drugs, or alcohol use. The American Lung Association says smoking not only makes it harder to get pregnant but also increases pregnancy risks. Those who smoke have an increased chance of premature delivery, stillbirth, SIDS, low birth weight, ectopic pregnancy, and more.  


In general, if you’re trying to get pregnant, avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs is the safest choice. If you’re concerned about environmental factors—like exposure to certain chemicals—ask your OB GYN too. He or she can help guide you on what to avoid.  



How do my medical conditions affect pregnancy? 


While many medical conditions are manageable during pregnancy, some may need extra care. The CDC says it’s best to get medical conditions under control and make sure you have a treatment plan before you get pregnant. Talk to your OB GYN about conditions like sexually transmitted diseases, thyroid issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy, mental health conditions, or anemia.  


You may also talk with your OB GYN about weight and pregnancy. Being overweight or underweight can affect your conception and pregnancy health. Your doctor can give you guidelines on a healthy weight for you. He or she can also answer your questions about exercise and nutrition as it relates to fertility and pregnancy. 



Should I stop or start any medications or supplements? 


Some medications are considered safe during pregnancy. However, some put your baby at risk. Make sure your OB GYN knows about all of your prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and supplements. If one of your medications is not safe for pregnancy, your doctor can help you make a plan before you become pregnant. 


You can also talk with your OB GYN about choosing the right prenatal vitamin for you. It’s recommended that you start a supplement with folic acid a few months before you start trying to get pregnant. According to the March of Dimes, folic acid during early pregnancy—sometimes before you even know you’re pregnant—can help protect your baby from neural tube defects.  



Do I need any vaccinations or screenings before I get pregnant? 



During your pre-pregnancy visit, your OB GYN can make sure you’re up to date on any needed screenings. These might include a Pap smear or testing for sexually transmitted infections. Your doctor may also check on your health using blood pressure, weight, or urine screenings. 


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says you should review your vaccination history with your OB GYN as well. Some vaccinations—like a flu shot or the Tdap vaccine—are fine during pregnancy. However, others are not recommended once you are already pregnant—such as the MMR or chickenpox vaccine. 



What should my partner do to support a healthy pregnancy? 


Your partner plays a role in a healthy pregnancy too. Some medical conditions that could affect your baby run in families. Make sure your OB GYN know about your family health history, as well as your partner’s family history. Your partner can also support you by making lifestyle changes with you, such as diet changes, quitting smoking, or avoiding alcohol. If you’re concerned about fertility, be sure he talks with his own doctor about reproductive health. 



What should I do if it’s taking longer than I expected? 


Once you’ve decided to have a baby, it can be hard waiting each month for that positive pregnancy test. But don’t worry if it doesn’t happen in the first couple of months. The American Pregnancy Association says about 85% of couples get pregnant with the first year of regular, unprotected sex. 


Based on your age and health, your OB GYN can guide you on when to schedule another visit if you haven’t gotten pregnant. In general, if you’re healthy and under 35, you should try for a year. If you’re over 35, your OB GYN may recommend you only wait six months.  


For those who have trouble conceiving, consider talking with an OB GYN who is board-certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. He or she can help you address any underlying conditions and find the best way to improve your chances of having a baby. 



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