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Why You Should See Your Doctor Before Trying to Conceive

Katlyn Joy |29, March 2013


You've started noticing babies everywhere; on diaper commercials, in the check out lane at the grocery and in the neighborhood park while walking your dog. Maybe you've even popped into the baby department while at the mall, just to look at the adorable tiny outfits.

Having a baby isn't just a question of deciding it's time or that you and your partner are ready. There is also the physical side of the equation, so once you've made the choice to begin your family your next step should be consulting your physician about conceiving. Here are a few reasons you should make an appointment with your doctor prior to trying to conceive.

You should have a routine physical to rule out any health problems.

It could be that since your last exam your blood pressure has become elevated or your blood sugar levels are up. These are important health factors for you to consider as an individual, but it becomes even more crucial to look after if you are pregnant due to the increased demands on your body during gestation. Many conditions such as hypertension and diabetes must be carefully monitored during pregnancy due to the risk to both you and your unborn child. If you get these issues under control prior to pregnancy the outlook is far brighter for both you and baby.

You should get a thorough gynecological exam to make sure everything is ready for pregnancy.

You may find out that your uterus is unusually shaped or there is some caution regarding your cervix after an abnormal PAP result. Just going to the doctor and getting a good and careful exam in light of your intention to get pregnant soon will alleviate potential problems or worries.

You may need to get advice on how long to wait before getting pregnant depending on what birth control you have been using.

If you were using birth control pills or other hormonal or chemical types of birth control your doctor may advice you to wait a couple months after discontinuing them before attempting to get pregnant. You'll probably be advised to use barrier methods, such as condoms in the meantime.

You need to get checked for diseases, and disease immunity prior to getting pregnant.

A simple blood test can tell your doctor if you have immunity from German measles for instance, or if you have a disease such as hepatitis or syphillis. Knowing ahead of time is definitely a good thing.

To Go Over Your Medication List

Your doctor needs to look over your medications, including herbal preparations or over the counter medications to advise you on what to stop and what to substitute. Many medicines are best to stop while pregnant, and since you won't definitively know whether you're pregnant or not until at least a couple weeks into the pregnancy, you should act as though you are pregnant now. Most drugs can do the most damage in the first several weeks when the fetus is developing and not just growing. If you take allergy medicine, your doctor can give you ideas on how to prevent flare ups and what meds are safe.

Is your weight where it should be?

If you are underweight, you may encounter difficulty getting pregnant. Your doctor can see if there is any medical reason for your low weight and suggest healthy ways to gain needed pounds. If on the other hand your BMI is too high, you can find out exactly how overweight you are and develop a plan for safe weight loss before you throw a baby into the mix.

You can get your nutritional needs met before the added demands of the baby begin.

All women should take folic acid ideally a few months before even getting pregnant in order to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida or anecephaly. If you have family members with the disorders or you yourself have had a neural tube disorder, it is even more crucial to get the required amount of this nutrient. Also, many times doctors will go ahead and start you on prenatal vitamins to cover all the bases before there is an official pregnancy diagnosis.

You may be a candidate for genetic testing.

If you are of certain ethnic backgrounds or certain genetic conditions are in either of your families, genetic testing prior to trying to get pregnant is ideal. Those who should pursue testing include those from Mediterranean descent and African Americans, due to sickle cell and thalassemia. Southeast Asians also risk thalassemia. Eastern European Jews have an increased risk of cystic fibrosis, (as do European Caucasians)Tay-Sachs, familial dysautonomia and Canavan. French Canadians also have a higher than average risk of Tay-Sachs and cystic fibrosis. Having the tests done before a pregnancy occurs will allow you to find out if there is a significant increase in risks and what the situation is genetically for you and your mate. This takes some worry away from you as a couple as you try to start a family.

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