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What To Expect at Your Preconception Counseling Appointment

What To Expect at Your Preconception Counseling Appointment

Thinking of getting pregnant? Before you ditch your birth control, consider making a preconception appointment with your doctor first. Think of it as your “baby” step into the wonderful world of parenthood.

What is a preconception appointment?

A preconception appointment is a visit with your OB-GYN or primary care physician to discuss your pregnancy plans. This combination medical checkup and preconception counseling visit can help you and your doctor make sure your body is ready for creating a new tiny human.

During your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to your doctor about fertility concerns, how your medical history and current health status or lifestyle may affect pregnancy, and more. Even if you’re healthy or have given birth before, a preconception appointment can help you prepare for this exciting journey right from the start.

When should I schedule a preconception counseling appointment?

Experts recommend scheduling a preconception counseling appointment approximately three months before you begin trying to conceive.

What happens during the appointment?

The preconception appointment is typically a mix of routine exams and lab work, some specific pre-pregnancy tests, and plenty of questions and answers about how to best plan for your pregnancy.

Physical exam

  • Weight check
  • Blood pressure reading
  • Breast, pelvic, and abdominal exams

Lab work

  • Blood tests to measure red and white blood cells, hemoglobin levels, and thyroid function and to screen for anemia and vitamin D deficiency. You may also be offered:
    • Genetic testing for conditions such as hemoglobin disorders, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and rubella immunity
    • Screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis
    • Fertility screenings if you’ve had past fertility issues or are over age 35
  • Urine test, which may identify urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney or liver problems, and STDs
  • PAP test to check for abnormal cell changes on the cervix

Vaccinations

  • Even if you’ve had vaccinations as a child, your doctor may recommend boosters to help you maintain strong immunity.

What will be discussed at a preconception appointment?

A preconception appointment means plenty of questions. Whether your doctor is doing the asking or you are, this is an excellent time to get trusted guidance from your healthcare provider.

During your preconception appointment, your doctor will typically discuss:

  • You and your partner’s current health, medical history, and family health history
  • Your current birth control method
  • Habits and lifestyle. For example, do you or your partner smoke or work in an environment exposed to potentially harmful toxins?
  • The importance of folic acid, prenatal vitamins, nutrition, and weight management
  • The best way to track ovulation and the optimal time to have sex to conceive
  • Tips for avoiding potential pregnancy complications

Bring your partner or support person.

It’s a great idea to bring a partner or support person to your appointment as they can play an important role throughout your pregnancy. Your partner’s health and lifestyle can affect you and your baby and they can answer questions about family and medical history. Your healthcare provider can also help your partner or support person learn how to best assist you as you get ready for parenthood.

Questions to ask your doctor during a pre-pregnancy consultation appointment

If you’re like many women, you probably have millions of questions about how to have a healthy baby and pregnancy experience. A pre-pregnancy consultation opens up the conversation. Some questions to consider asking your doctor during your appointment include:

  • When should I stop using birth control? How long will it take to get pregnant after stopping birth control?
    It may take several cycles for your cycle to adjust to being off certain types of hormonal contraceptives.

  • Do I have any medical conditions that may affect fertility or that may be affected by pregnancy?
    Some conditions, such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), may impact fertility. Other physical and mental health issues, like high blood pressure or anxiety, may be impacted by pregnancy.

  • How will my prescription medications, over-the-counter treatments, and vitamins and supplements affect fertility or pregnancy?
    Your doctor can provide guidance on how to best manage chronic conditions and optimize your health while trying to conceive or during pregnancy.

  • Do I need genetic counseling?
    If you, your partner, or your family members have genetic disorders, your doctor may recommend special genetic counseling services or tests.

  • What prenatal vitamins should I take?
    Prenatal vitamins supplement your diet so that your body has key vitamins and minerals needed to help support a healthy pregnancy even before you know you’re pregnant.

    Your doctor will most likely recommend one with folic acid to help support early fetal development of the brain and spinal cord.* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women in their reproductive years take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily, in addition to consuming food with folate from a varied diet.1

More preconception health resources

The road to pregnancy can be both exciting and overwhelming. A preconception counseling appointment can ease some of your concerns and give you insights to help improve your chances of conception and the health of you and your baby-to-be. Explore our Tips and Resources section for more baby planning articles and videos, including:

As you take this initial first step toward pregnancy, Enfamil is with you. We understand that everyone's journey is different. We're happy to provide educational resources to help support you through whichever path leads you to parenthood.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

1 Recommendations: Women and Folic Acid