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What to do when: Health checks before falling pregnant

Katharine Wellmann
If you’re actively trying to fall pregnant, it’s a good idea to get your health checked out thoroughly.

In this article we will look at:

 

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No matter how well you feel, fertility experts recommend going for a few routine medical checks before you fall pregnant. These are simple and pain-free, and ensure that you’re as fit and healthy as possible.
 
Gynae or GP
Before falling pregnant, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor and discuss your plans. At this visit, your doctor is likely to ask a variety of questions to ascertain your general level of health.
 
They may ask about your:

  • Gynaecological history: birth control used, previous pelvic infections, previous pregnancies, births, terminations and miscarriages.
  • Medical history: to check if you have any pre-existing conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure and thyroid disease in particular) that could impact the pregnancy.
  • History of genetic medical disorders or birth defects on both sides.
  • Health and lifestyle.
  • Medications and allergies.
  • Emotional and mental wellbeing.
At this appointment, the doctor is likely to conduct a:
  • Pelvic examination and pap smear.
  • Breast exam.
  • Blood pressure check.
  • Urine test to screen for diabetes and urinary tract infections.
Blood tests
Doctors recommend doing a number of blood tests before you fall pregnant, so that you have a good snapshot of your health at this time. These include:

  • A full blood count to see whether you need to take iron supplements.
  • A blood test to ascertain whether you're immune to rubella and chicken pox.
  • A test for syphilis, herpes or HIV if you or your partner is at risk.
  • A test for Hepatitis B if you are at risk.
  • A thyroid hormone test.
  • A blood test to check your blood group.
Genetic history
If you or your partner has a history of genetic medical disorders or birth defects, or if you are over the age of 35, your doctor may advise you to consider genetic counselling. This could include discussing conditions such as sickle-cell anaemia, Tay-Sachs disease, Cystic Fibrosis or the risks of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome.
 
Dental check-up
Even the dentist makes it on to this list! In some cases, pregnancy hormones can cause bleeding gums and brittle teeth. It’s recommended to see your dentist to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy before you fall pregnant. Once pregnant, you may not be able to have the usual treatments you would normally have, as certain medications will not be allowed.
 
Folic acid
During your pre-pregnancy check-up, your doctor may also prescribe folic acid. Folic acid is important for preventing neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida. Ideally, you should take folic acid supplements three months prior to conception and up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. Your doctor will also advise you to stop certain habits like taking recreational drugs, drinking and smoking, and may give you dietary and exercise advice.
 
Every prospective parent wants to give their child the best in life. If you have all the pre-pregnancy health checks a few months before you fall pregnant, you can ensure that your baby is given the best head start possible. Have you had a thorough check-up lately?
 
BabyGroup says…
This article has been checked by Dr Lauren Lee, GP. A member of the BabyGroup Medical Council.
 
”It’s important to check for anaemia, thyroid dysfunction and HIV before you try to conceive, to help ensure a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby.” Dr Lauren Lee.
 

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