Preconception counseling is one of the first meetings with your doctor where you discuss your fertility and conception options, and everything else you want to know about how to become pregnant. Our compassionate fertility team sets you on a path to pregnancy and helps you and your partner establish your next steps. The appointment covers several topics like your lifestyle and family history, genetic testing, and the best vitamins and supplements to take, and our doctors provide any other advice, tips, and new research about how to conceive.
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Your Path to Pregnancy
Finding your path to pregnancy can be challenging, and a little overwhelming. But with the support and experience of our fertility team, you or you your partner can enjoy the path the pregnancy like everyone else. Our fertility care doctors personalize your path to suit your goals, background, and health profile.
Below are a few topics you may discuss at your first preconception counseling checkup.
- History: We’ll review your history from top to bottom, from your own medical history and family history, to your reproductive history and surgical procedures. It may help to start thinking about your history or asking family members for information about your family before the appointment so we can be as thorough and timely as possible.
- Lifestyle: Exercise and diet play a vital role in conception. We’ll want to know what types of foods you eat regularly and if you drink alcohol or smoke (if so, how often). Good dietary habits are essential to a healthy pregnancy. If you haven’t already, start eating foods rich in fiber and make sure you’re getting enough calcium, folic acid, and other nutrients. Taking an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin will also help.
- Weight: There is no perfect weight for pregnancy. Everyone’s weight is different, and your ideal weight will depend on many different factors. We’ll discuss your current weight and explore whether losing or gaining weight can increase your chances of becoming pregnant, reduce your risk of any complications during pregnancy, or of delivering a low birth-weight baby. And if so, we’ll discuss how to navigate through those scenarios.
- Menstrual Cycles: Tracking your menstrual cycles help you determine the most effective day and time for you and your partner to have intercourse. You can prepare for this conversation by reviewing the date of your last period and the average length of your menstrual cycles.
- Vaccinations: You may need to update your vaccinations before you become pregnant. We’ll discuss your vaccination history and why vaccinations for rubella, chicken pox, influenza, Tdap, and hepatitis B can reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth. Do a quick review of your vaccination history before your appointment.
What Screenings are Performed?
A few simple and safe screenings and tests may be performed at or after your preconception counseling session to help us gather information and more accurately build your health profile.
- Physical: A physical examination similar to what you would expect at an annual screening is often performed to evaluate your baseline health and determine what next steps should be taken to begin your journey to a healthy pregnancy.
- Urine and Blood Tests: Lab tests will screen for a variety of conditions like rubella, hepatitis, HIV, syphilis, and take your blood count to see whether you should start taking iron supplements.
- Genetic and Disease Testing: Genetic testing helps understand potential risks of pregnancy and your chances of giving birth to a child with a physical or intellectual birth defect. Genetic and disease testing help parents-to-be start the conversation about how to prepare for all circumstances they may encounter pre- and post-partum.
How to Prepare for Your Appointment
There isn’t too much you need to do to prepare for your preconception session, but gathering some information ahead of time can ensure a more thorough appointment.
- Medications: Your doctor will discuss both over the counter and prescription medications you or your partner are taking, as well as any vitamin and herbal supplements you take.
- Recent Travel: It can be hard to remember the last few countries or cities you’ve traveled to off the top of your head, so thinking of this ahead of time will help. If you or your partner recently traveled to an area where Zika virus or coronavirus is prevalent, our doctors will help you devise a conception plan, which could include waiting a period of time before trying to conceive.
- Chronic Conditions: Be sure you have as much information about your medical history as possible prior to the appointment, including your mental health history. A history of chronic conditions isn’t something you should worry about on your path to pregnancy. Many chronic conditions are compatible with conceiving and giving birth to a healthy baby.
- Family History: As mentioned above, we’ll ask about you and your spouse’s family medical history. This includes aunts, uncles, cousins, or anyone that may have suffered from a medical condition that could impact you or your spouse’s chances of conceiving. You may have to call a relative and do some digging to find out more information.