Just start trying… right? Well that works but if you want to have a baby without any extra guess work, it can be beneficial to have a preconception visit. This will allow you and your doctor to talk about the history of your health and evaluate any medical concerns. Having the right tools for a healthy pregnancy or at least a proper estimate on how long getting pregnant might take will help you mentally prepare.
Here are some essential questions to ask your doctor:
1. Are you the right doctor for me?
They are a gynecologist right? Well, even if they are, not all gynecologist have experience in pregnancy and childbirth. You want to find a doctor with certifications in obstetrics. My suggestion would be to ask this when you call in to make the appointment. If your current doctor isn’t an obstetrician, then ask for any recommendations for local obstetricians. Let them know you want to request a fertility consultation.
If possible, bring your significant other to discuss conception plans. Your doctor might want to know about your partners health and your partner might have questions of their own. It is important to remember that family planning affects you as an individual but also your relationship as you build a family together.
2. How long will it take me to get pregnant?
Your doctor will give you an estimate based on your age, health history and past conception experience. Some couples get pregnant on their first try while others could take a year or more.
3. When should I stop birth control?
We all like to plan but not everyone will get pregnant right after they stop taking birth control. Your doctor will help you understand how your birth control has altered your cycle and the time it might take (possibly several months) before your cycles are normal again. There are a few different forms of birth control and for some of them like the IUD, you’ll need to schedule removing it. Ask your doctor if there are any signs or symptoms to lookout for after removal that could indicate a problem.
4. Should I can change any of my lifestyle habits?
As your doctor starts to review your day to day habits you’ll learn which actives can negatively impact your fertility and pregnancy, things like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and excessive exercising may need to put on hold until after you’ve had the baby. Weight can also make a difference, both being over and underweight can lead to pregnancy complications which your doctor will review. Here are some questions that might help:
- Am I at a healthy weight for pregnancy?
- Can I have a glass of red wine with dinner when I am trying to conceive?
- Do I need to stop drinking caffeine?
- Should I quit smoking or using other substances?
5. How will my health conditions affect my fertility?
At this stage, it is possible that you aren’t even sure you have any medical conditions and it might take trying without success for you to start asking your doctor/researching what is going on. There are a few different health conditions that can cause fertility issues like PCOS, Endometriosis, STDs, Thyroid disorders. Not to mention you are only 50% of the equation. Your partner might have low sperm count, motility or morphology that could make it more difficult to conceive.
6. TMI but…
Never be afraid or giving your doctor too-much-information. It can be embarrassing but it can also save you time and frustration down the road. If you don’t think you have any health conditions like PCOS but have particular symptoms, your doctor could help you figure them out by letting them know. An example could be unwanted facial hair which is a common symptom of PCOS. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility for 1 in 10 women. Talk to your partner ahead of time about both of you being upfront about symptoms that might seem like TMI, like erectile dysfunction— some symptoms can be embarrassing but could be related to your fertility or your general health. Your doctor needs all of the information in order to make the proper diagnosis.
7. Could these medications I’m taking affect my ability to get pregnant?
It is always important to make a list or take any medications with you when going to the doctor to talk about safety concerns. Some antidepressants, steroids, NSAIDs, thyroid medication and antipsychotics can all decrease your chances of conceiving. Don’t forget to also bring any over-the-counter products or supplements as well.
8. When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?
Your doctor may recommend starting prenatal vitamins while you are trying to conceive. One study found that women undergoing fertility treatments who were taking prenatal multivitamins were twice as likely to get pregnant as women who were undergoing the same treatments but taking only folic acid. However if you aren’t at the stage of fertility treatments, your doctor might just recommend taking a folic acid supplement 3-6 months before trying to conceive. Folic acid can lower risks of some birth defects.
9. Once I get pregnant, should I stop taking_____?
Some medications may hurt the chances of you getting pregnant but what about once you are pregnant? Ask ahead of time if you need to stop taking certain medication or supplements once you have a positive pregnancy test.
10. What vaccinations should I get?
You often don’t think about vaccinations unless you’re in school and they are mandatory but it is actually important to think about them now as getting sick during pregnancy can put you and your unborn child at risk. Some vaccines that might be suggested before you conceive (these aren’t safe if you are already pregnant) are only needed if you aren’t already immune: chickenpox vaccine, measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). There are other vaccinations you can take once you are pregnant like the flu vaccine, Tdap shot (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) and the hepatitis B vaccine.
11. When should I do genetic testing?
Genetic testing is done before you start trying to conceive, but many pregnancies are unplanned and will have genetic testing done in early pregnancy. Genetic testing isn’t required, your doctor will likely ask you if you or your partner have any genetic disorders that run in the family before suggesting being tested. Genetic testing can inform you if you are carriers of any hereditary genetic conditions, including spinal muscular atrophy, cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, and more.
A little background on what a doctor may be looking for: genetic disorders often happen when both you and your significant other have a bad copy of a gene, resulting in a child being born with two bad copies of a gene. If you are tested and only one of you (you or your significant other) has a bad gene, then your baby won’t show symptoms of the condition, but will be a “carrier” for it. To clarify, your baby will be born with the disorder only if both you and your partner pass the bad gene to them.
12. When I have a positive pregnancy test, should I come back to the doctor?
In this first appointment with your doctor when you are still trying to conceive, ask them when they would prefer you do another checkup. Should you come back to the obstetrician right after a positive pregnancy test or wait until the fetus is older? Often it will be recommended that you have your first appointment between 6-12 weeks. *If you have pelvic pain or vaginal bleeding at any time during your pregnancy, call your doctor immediately.
13. Write a List of Your Questions
We have all been there, we’ve left and remember that one question we forgot and as the night goes on, we remember another question that escaped us. To avoid this, start making a list now, give yourself a few days to add to it and talk with your partner. A list that involves your concerns, symptoms, and questions before your appointment can make all the difference.
You don’t have to stay with the first doctor you find. It can be hard to find a good provider-patient relationship. If you don’t feel like your doctor is addressing your concerns or able to support you through your conception journey, look for a doctor that will.
This content is strictly the opinion of S’moo and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither S’moo nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.