What is preconception counseling?
A preconception counseling appointment is an opportunity for you to meet with your gynecologist (or primary care provider) and prepare for a healthy pregnancy. As a part the preparation process, your gynecologist may ask you some basic questions about your gynecologic, obstetric, and greater medical history. He or she may also advise you to take certain supplements, avoid certain substances, and test you for various diseases and health problems.
The point of a preconception counseling appointment is to ensure that you (and your partner) are in the best possible health and fully aware of potential problems and risks. Of course, it’s common for a woman to have one or more health issues when becoming pregnant. Your preconception counseling appointment is an opportunity to learn how you can best manage these health conditions as you attempt to become pregnant.
To schedule a preconception counseling appointment with a board-certified OB/GYN or certified nurse midwife in Gilbert, Mesa or Tempe, AZ, call Steward Medical Group Women’s Health Associates at 480.632.2004.
“Gynecologic history” is a term healthcare practitioners use for all things related to menstruation, birth control, gynecologic infections, and sexually transmitted diseases. Expect to cover a lot of ground in this part of the appointment. Your gynecologist will want to know about what kind of birth control you have used, as the use of some contraceptives may require you to wait a little while before conceiving. Also, your health care provider will likely ask you about your menstrual cycle (when you started menstruating, how long your periods last, when did you have your last period, etc.).
If you have not had a recent Pap smear or been tested for HPV, then this appointment may be an opportunity for you to do so. If you are not in a monogamous relationship and you or your partner have had multiple sex partners in the past, your provider will likely recommend STI testing. Pelvic exams are also normal parts of preconception counseling.
Your obstetric history includes past pregnancies (including failed pregnancies). If you saw a different obstetrician in your earlier pregnancies, then your current provider will want to know about your pregnancy and birthing experience.
Your medical history has to do with chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as other health complications you may have had. If you have any allergies, your provider will want to know about these, as well.
Other Topics for Preconception Counseling
Your provider may bring up these questions and topics, as well:
- Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use
- Diet and exercise
- Mental, emotional, and social history
- Are you up-to-date on vaccinations?
5 Things You Can Do Before Becoming Pregnant
The Office on Women’s Health (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) recommends that all women do the following five things before becoming pregnant:
- Take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid per day. This essential vitamin helps lower the risk of certain birth defects, including spina bifida.
- Quit smoking; stop drinking alcohol.
- Take the steps to manage any medical conditions that could affect your pregnancy, including (but not limited to) diabetes, obesity, asthma, epilepsy, and oral health.
- Talk to your health care provider about all medications you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, vitamins, and supplements. Also, make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccinations.
- Avoid toxic substances that could expose you to infection. This includes cleaning the cat litter box!
Schedule Your Preconception Counseling Appointment
Are you thinking about becoming pregnant? Not planning a family now, but want to be prepared? Consider scheduling a preconception counseling appointment with at Steward Medical Group Women’s Health Associates. For appointments, call 480.632.2004, or schedule online.