If you want to have a baby, it is important to prepare for pregnancy, not simply “go off your birth control method.” The way each woman prepares will be different; some may need to change medications, and others may need to stop smoking. Others may need to significantly increase their intake of folic acid.
Even if a woman is considered healthy, she should still schedule a consultation with her gynecologist to help ensure she and her baby will be as healthy as possible.
For some women, preparing for pregnancy can take a few months or longer, and therefore it is important to consult with your gynecologist prior to going off your birth control. Remember to include your partner in this family planning process, too.
About Your Consultation
At your consultation, your gynecologist will ask questions about your family health history and any medical conditions you or a family member may have had that could affect a pregnancy. Your gynecologist will also ask you a series of questions related to your gynecologic health, such as when you had your last period, if you have had abnormal periods or other issues related to your uterine health.
If you currently have any medical issues, such as a sexually transmitted disease (STD), high blood pressure, diabetes or a thyroid disorder, these must be treated before you become pregnant.
Your gynecologist will review your medications with you. Since some can cause birth defects, it’s important to discuss everything you may take, including vitamins, over over-the-counter medications and herbs. Your gynecologist will also review your vaccination history to determine if you need any shots prior to conception.
Your gynecologist may recommend genetic counseling for a number of reasons, such as:
- If you have had several miscarriages
- If you have had trouble getting pregnant
- If you have an inherited condition
- If you have previously given birth to an infant with a birth defect.
Folic acid can prevent birth defects of the brain and spine. However, it is important that you begin taking it during and before pregnancy. Your gynecologist will discuss how much you should take and when.
Your gynecologist will ask you questions about your lifestyle choices, such as those related to smoking, using drugs or drinking alcohol. Changing any negative lifestyle behaviors before becoming pregnant can often mean the difference between having a child that is born healthy and content and one that is not. If you are overweight or obese, or if you are underweight, you are at a higher risk for health issues and complications during pregnancy. Your gynecologist can recommend changes that can help you reach a healthy weight to before becoming pregnant. When you are trying to become pregnant, it is important to think about the environment where you live and work, too. Make sure you avoiding any toxins such as chemicals, sprays and fertilizers, as well as animal feces. These substances can damage your reproductive systems and make it more difficult to become pregnant.
Your gynecologist will also ask questions about your emotional health, such as if you have ever felt depressed, anxious or suicidal. This conversation will also include other issues related to emotional health, such as if you experience physical or emotional abuse.