Many people are surprised to know that the ideal time to start planning for a healthy pregnancy is well prior to actually falling pregnant (and of course using reliable contraception beforehand!). It’s best to visit your GP for a pre-conception consult at least 3-6 months before you are thinking about trying for pregnancy.
A preconception consult with a GP involves taking a medical, gynae, family and vaccination histories, a clinical exam if needed and then further investigations such as blood tests. Here is a little summary of what to expect:
- Check your routine screening is up to date – STI screening, cervical screening, breast screening (for high risk patients), and cardiovascular health screening.
- Vaccination history and confirmation of immunity to rubella and chickenpox (you can’t have live vaccinations when pregnant or when trying to fall pregnant, so these need to be checked early and given at least one month prior to trying to fall pregnant. Other vaccinations such as influenza and pertussis are not live and are strongly recommended in pregnancy.
- Check what medications you are on, and make sure they are either safe in pregnancy or ceased with adequate time before falling pregnant. Some medications and most herbal remedies and supplements are not considered safe in pregnancy.
- Check of nutritional status – you need a healthy diet to grow a healthy baby and you may require additional supplementation with iron and other vitamins after first confirming the levels with a blood test.
- Cease smoking, alcohol and other drugs 3 months prior to trying to fall pregnant. This goes for potential fathers also since these poisons can reduce sperm quality.
- Check your travel history – in particular if you have been exposed to Zika virus or other pathogens than may reduce the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
- Consider your family history of illnesses or genetic changes.
- Start a folic acid and iodine supplement 3 months prior to trying to falling pregnant. Depending on your medial history your GP may recommended higher dosage folic acid or other medications to be started prior to pregnancy.
Here are some further resources which might be of interest:
Dr Cath Hester
These articles are not intended to replace a one-to-one relationship with a qualified general practitioner or as specific medical advice. They are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from experience and research in the scientific literature. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon a partnership with a qualified general practitioner.