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Preconception planning will help you prepare for the best possible pregnancy. Women often schedule their first prenatal visit after their eighth week of pregnancy. However, studies show that many factors can affect fetal development during the critical first 60 days, sometimes resulting in problems later on.

Couple’s Family Health History

To prepare for the best possible pregnancy, preconception planning is essential. During preconception planning, a physician will evaluate your health status, family history, environmental circumstances and lifestyle. This includes any chronic diseases you may have such as asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure. Adjusting medications and treatments to protect the fetus when conception occurs is an important part of preparing for pregnancy.

A couple’s family history also plays a key role in preconception planning. If inherited diseases such as Tay-Sachs or sickle cell anemia run in the family, genetic testing can assess the likelihood of passing on these diseases. If the woman’s mother suffered miscarriages and preterm deliveries, it can be a red flag for inherited tendencies that should be monitored. Screening may also be conducted for HIV, hepatitis B and other conditions that could affect a pregnancy. The vaccination history of women who plan to become pregnant is also reviewed to ensure that immunizations are current.

Preventive Measures

During preconception planning your doctor will discuss preventive measures such as avoiding alcohol and taking prenatal vitamins, including folic acid. Beginning a prescribed vitamin regimen at least three months before becoming pregnant is extremely important. It significantly reduces the possibility of defects that can affect a baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Have you seen a doctor for preconception planning?

Schedule an appointment with a MemorialCare obstetrician or certified nurse midwife.