Thinking about getting pregnant? Now is a great time to check in with your provider for a pre-pregnancy checkup. This guide will spell out how to prepare and what to expect at that visit.
What is a preconception checkup?
A preconception visit with your healthcare provider (such as an OBGYN) is an important first step to pregnancy. The goal of the visit is to make sure you’re healthy, prepared, and educated about what’s ahead—including any risk factors for complications or needed lifestyle changes. It’s also helpful to establish care with a provider and start developing a trusting relationship.
What to bring
At your preconception visit your provider may bring up:
- Reproductive history. Tell them about any previous pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pap smear results (make sure you’re up-to-date on your cervical cancer screening!), menstrual history, and birth control use.
- Medical history. It’s important for your provider to know your comprehensive medical history to help determine potential risk factors and complications that may arise during pregnancy. If you’re going into your pregnancy with conditions like asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, or thyroid disease, let your doctor know. There are many medical conditions that have implications on the pregnancy and should be discussed before conception. Make sure they have your medical records, and talk through your body’s biography.
- Past surgeries. Knowledge of past surgeries—big or small—helps your provider to understand your reaction to anesthesia and flag potential roadblocks in trying to conceive or deliver.
- Family history. Your ethnicity, along with significant family history (like your sister who had pre-eclampsia or your aunt’s gestational diabetes) can reveal things about your health. If possible, talk with your family before the visit to see if there’s anything notable you should share.
- Medications. Tell your provider everything you’re taking, even over-the-counter meds, vitamins, and supplements. Also mention things like retinol and salicylic acid—both are topical creams people use to combat acne that are not safe for pregnancy.
- Lifestyle. Keep it real. Tell your provider how often you exercise, how much you drink, etc.
- Genetic carrier screening. This is a test that parents can take to learn more about the genetic health of their future children. It looks to see if parents are carriers of any hidden genetic disorders that they may unknowingly pass on to their children.
- Domestic violence. Your preconception visit is a time to reflect on your relationship and make sure you feel emotionally and physically safe. If you feel unsafe, we urge you to speak with your provider. Intimate partner violence affects millions of women, irrespective of their age, socioeconomic status, race, or religion. Your provider can connect you with local resources and support.
- Recent travel and future plans. Talk to your doctor to get the latest information about regions or countries to avoid given concerns for certain infectious diseases, like the Zika virus.
Now is the time to talk openly with your provider. Consider practical questions ranging from how to use an ovulation test or find your fertile window to debunking the many myths we hear about medicine and wellness. Your provider is there to break it down and give you evidence-based advice. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, your provider can also point you in the direction of online resources, books, or counselors.