The Preconception Visit
You and your partner have come to an agreement - and it's an exciting one at that. You are ready to begin your family. Congratulations. Seems the only thing left to do is go ahead and get pregnant. But, before you do that, this is the opportune time to see your physician for a preconception visit.
Preconception visit? What is that and why do we need one?
The concept behind a preconception visit is to provide a partnership between an OB/GYN and a couple, who will work together to create a program to provide as close to a problem free conception as quickly as possible. After that, the couple will hopefully have a healthy pregnancy with decreased risk of miscarriage and birth defects. But you don't need any help, you say?
Consider some of these facts. Women with high blood sugar (and some don't know it), or with diabetes, or who are obese, are at an increased risk for gestational diabetes which puts their baby at risk for a number of different birth defects. Use of prescription drugs can cause birth defects or even miscarriage. Better to have the prescription changed before conception than risk the heartbreak of possible damage to the baby. If you have any health issues which could present problems in conception, finding out about them several months ahead of time allows time to address them and make corrections.
What To Expect At A Preconception Visit
So, you do the wise thing and make an appointment with the doctor. What can you expect during this visit? At the preconception visit the doctor will want a detailed medical history from both perspective parents. This information will probably be broken down into a few categories. One of them is reproductive health. In this segment, the doctor will want to know about the father-to-be and his reproductive background. He will want to know if he has fathered children prior and if there are any birth defects in the children.
Family Background Information, Please
The family backgrounds of both parents-to-be can affect a pregnancy, so the doctor will want to know if there are any of the following conditions in either partner's family history: high blood pressure, diabetes, birth defects, cystic fibrosis, mental health issues, any inherited diseases (such as sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease or Thalassemia).
It's All About You
Then, the doctor will need to know a complete personal history on both perspective parents relative to diseases, conditions and infections which can affect fertility. These include: STDs, reproductive tract infections like PID, heart disease, epilepsy, German measles, mumps, and any chronic diseases like arthritis, colitis, and weight problems.
Since lifestyle can affect the ability to conceive, there will be many questions concerning work, occupation, and leisure activities as well as alcohol consumption, eating habits, smoking habits, drug use, toxic chemical exposure and what kind of pets are in the home. The couple will also have an opportunity to tell the doctor about any over-the-counter drugs they use, to seek help for weight loss if necessary, to ask about blood tests and to ask any questions they may have about pregnancy.
A Wise Decision
A preconception visit is the best "next step" a couple can take after they make the decision to have a baby. Everyone benefits.