One of the most important steps in preparing for a healthy pregnancy is a prepregnancy examination (often called preconception care). By seeing your health care provider as early as possible before becoming pregnant, you have the opportunity to make positive changes in your general health, diet, and lifestyle. A preconception examination may include any/all of the following:
- Family medical history. To determine if any maternal or paternal family member has had any medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and/or mental retardation.
- Genetic testing. An assessment of any possible genetic disorders, as several genetic disorders may be inherited. Some genetic disorders can be detected by blood tests before pregnancy.
- Personal medical history. An assessment of your personal medical history to determine if you have any medical conditions that may require special care during pregnancy (such as epilepsy, diabetes, high blood pressure, anemia, and/or allergies), previous surgeries, and past pregnancies.
- Vaccination status. An assessment of your current vaccinations/inoculations status to assess your immunity to rubella (German measles), in particular, as contracting this disease during pregnancy can cause miscarriage or birth defects. If you are not immune, a vaccine may be given at least three months before conception to provide immunity.
- Infection screening. To determine if you have a sexually transmitted, urinary, or other infection that could be harmful to you and your unborn baby.
During the preconception examination, you'll have opportunities to ask practical questions about becoming pregnant, such as timing of intercourse and signs of pregnancy. Be sure to follow your health care provider's advice regarding diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes to be certain you are on the right track for a healthy pregnancy.