Preconception Checkup- A Complete Guide

If you are here means you are planning a baby and seeking preconception checkup or prepregnancy checkup information.

Pregnancy is a blessed stage in a woman’s life. One should prepare for it physically and mentally to give birth to a healthy baby. The best prenatal care begins long before conceiving. Before you actually plan a baby visit your healthcare provider, get yourself examined, and follow a healthy lifestyle.

The preconception checkup is a prepregnancy appointment with the doctor to make sure you are fit to bear and deliver a healthy baby. In this visit, the doctor decides how well your body is prepared for pregnancy. The preconception visit before pregnancy not only ensures the detailed evaluation of your health, medical history, vaccination but also resolves pre-existing health issues that can pose a threat to the baby.

The preconception visit can help you figure out issues, if any, and try to make a resolution providing required changes in your lifestyle for your baby to be born healthy. You need prenatal checkups if you already have kids and all were born healthy. Preconception checkup assures you to have a baby without any congenital disabilities.

Should I Have a Preconception Checkup?

Yes, you should have one done as early as possible.

It will get you help regarding pre-baby to-do list like your nutrition intake, smoking, weight management, your birth controls, etc. Another reason is finding if your body is ready for baby. Doctors want to discover any health condition, fertility issue beforehand.

Prenatal visits become ‘A MUST’ if you have any of these conditions if-

  • you have experienced a premature delivery in your first pregnancy
  • you have a miscarriage or miscarriages before
  • are from the family with a history of ectopic pregnancy
  • you had a stillbirth
  • your baby has congenital disabilities
  • you, your mother, grandmother, or sister suffered from preeclampsia or postpartum depression at childbirth.
  • your partner or you have any chronic health issue
  • you have some genetic disorder

How Do I Prepare for the Preconception Visit?

You don’t need to do much. Just prepare answers to some questions the doctor is going to ask at the prenatal visit. you can be asked about your-

  • birth control method
  • menstrual cycles.
  • smoking and drinking habit
  • medications you are taking
  • weight
  • lifestyle
  • surgical history
  • any chronic ailment you, your partner, or blood relatives have
  • recent travel

What Happens at Preconception Health Checkup?

You may undergo different examinations-

Preconception Counseling

The healthcare provider collects the history of medication you are going through. she tries to find out what you are consuming whether they are antibiotics, natural herbs, or any health supplement. Your doctor can revise and prescribe more reliable medication for any prevailing condition. she will also talk about your past pregnancies and conceptions.

Clearly talk to your doctor about prescribed medicines for any ailment like for asthma, thyroid, depression, and Diabetes. These conditions and medicines may hazardous during pregnancy.

The doctor may ask about your and your partner’s health history as well as your both families. The family health tree matters a lot. The doctor will try to dig. Don’t take it personally. Tell him everything transparently. Doctors look for any genetic problems. If he sees any severe genetic disorder, he may recommend a genetic counselor to find the right solution. 

The doctor will also pen down addictions, phobias and your lifestyle. She will give suggestions accordingly.

Your mensural cycle and birth control methods will also be asked to determine your fertile window and guessing ovulation day. It will also come handy in deciding when to try to conceive depending upon your comfort period. He will guide you when to stop taking precautions.

Your travel history will also be recorded to see what places did you traveled recently. You are asked to wait for a period if you have traveled to country where viruses or any other situation is prevalent.

Physical Examination

This includes checking your heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, temperature, and weight. If you don’t have an ideal BMI, the doctor may ask to watch the weight.

Mental Health Checkup

The main objective of the mental test is to screen for common mental health conditions and deciding factors associated with mental health. The study says anxiety and depression are the most affecting risk factors responsible for postpartum depression. Psychopathological conditions during pregnancy may have physiological effects on the baby, such as impaired blood flow, low birth weight, cognitive and behavioral problems, etc. So, preconception mental health screening should be taken seriously.

Pelvic, Breast, and Abdominal Exam

It includes examining your reproductive organs, upper/lower abdomen, breasts, pelvic organs like uterus, vagina, ovaries, etc. This is to detect the possibility of pregnancy and to ensure whether you are fertile and fit to bear baby. They want to rule out any obstruction in the system or fertility problems. If there is a problem, you may get treatments at the right time.

Preconceptions Tests and Lab Screenings

  1. A pap smear, cervical cytology, or pap test. It is a medical test in which cells are taken from the cervix to detect cervical cancer.
  2. A urine test to check for UTIs
  3. A blood test to find Rh factor, Hemoglobin count, Tuberculosis, hepatitis B, Thyroid function, STDs (like HIVchlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea), diabetes, anemia, and thalassemia. Rh factor is a hereditary characteristic. If you are Rh-negative means you don’t have protein in your red blood cells. If your husband test Rh-negative baby born will probably have Rh-negative factor probably. But, if your partner is Rh-positive, the probability of Rh-positive baby increases. If the mother is negative and baby positive with Rh factor. The mother’s body will make antibodies to fight the baby’s blood. It will count baby an outsider and will fight against rather than nurturing the baby. No worries, Rh immunoglobulin shot can alter your body from behaving alien to baby-to-be. So is the condition if the mother is thalassemia major or minor and other conditions. Untreated thyroid and diabetes can affect fertility and pregnancy.
  4. PCOS scans and other screenings for uterine fibroids, polyps, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
  5. Vitamin D deficiency
  6. Genetic diseases like Spinal muscular atrophy, Hemoglobinopathies, Fragile X syndrome, Tay Saches disease, etc. If your partner or you is a carrier of such diseases, your health provider may instruct you to go for fertility treatment called IVF (in vitro fertilization) or test to verify implantation called PGD (preimplantation diagnosis). These tests are fruitful to survey the health of the embryos before implanting them in the uterus. 
  7. Rubella.
  8. Career screening tests that scan your blood and saliva to observe some genetic conditions

Preconception Dental Checkup

Mothers trying to get pregnant are advised a must visit the dentist for preconception dental care. Schedule an appointment at the dental clinic teeth cleansing and complete dental care. Some researches showed a link between gum disease and premature birth of a baby, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. Dental diseases tend to worsen with the advancement of pregnancy. Keep your mouth in good shape to avoid unnecessary dental problems when you are at the peak of your pregnancy.

Baby will be coming soon. Get dentist to give you that perfect smile to show everyone greeting you.

Vaccinations to Get Before Pregnancy

  1. Flu shots. Also called Influenza
  2. HPV (stands for human papillomavirus)
  3. MMR (stands for measles, mumps, and rubella)
  4. Varicella (also called chickenpox)
  5. Pneumonia
  6. Hepatitis A and B
  7. Haemophilus Influenzae Type b (also called Hib)

What Doctor Can I See for Preconception Checkup?

There are several health checkup providers to guide you in attaining a healthy pregnancy. Always visit the one who you think can take care of you in the entire pregnancy.

  • You can make a visit to an obstetrician (OB). obstetricians have educated caregivers for pregnant women and trained in delivering babies.
  • You can consult your family physician, who is easily available and aware of your family’s health and lifestyle. 
  • MFMs (maternal-fetal medicine specialists) can also be consulted. They are specially trained to handle high-risk pregnancies.
  • You can take an appointment with a gynecologist.
  • FNPs (family nurse practitioners) can also help you
  • Midwives are equally trained in pregnancies and deliveries.

Preconception To-Do List

After getting preconception counseling, follow everything your doctor advised.

  • Take the folic, calcium, iron, vitamin, and mineral supplements your doctor prescribed. Folic acid is essential in the brain and spine development of the baby.
  • Consume a nutritious diet and lots of fluids.
  • Stop smoking.
  • A big ‘NO’ to alcohol and street drugs
  • Keep track of your fertile window and ovulation day. Have sex in your fertile days.
  • Light exercises are advised for a healthy body.
  • Get your partner to have a health checkup too.

Even if you look super healthy and planning for a baby, still make appointments with your doctor and dentist for a complete preconception checkup. This ensures all your baby making and feeding parts are in good health and you are good to go for a safe pregnancy and healthy baby.

Farha Naaz

Farha Naaz is a mother of a 10-month old baby.