Most people don’t visit their doctor unless they’re sick. However if you’re planning on getting pregnant, it’s a good idea to get some checks done a few months before you start trying for a baby so you can get your body ready for a healthy pregnancy.
Your doctor may ask you questions about your health, family history and lifestyle to get a better picture of your overall health. They may also recommend some lifestyle changes or vitamin supplements.
1. Blood Tests
Getting an idea of your health status before you become pregnant can help you address any issues or make changes to your lifestyle to improve your health. A general blood test checks your cholesterol, iron and liver function. A blood test can also check if you’ve previously received specific vaccinations or if you still have strong immunity against certain diseases.
Some vaccines aren’t suitable for pregnant women so it’s best that you’re up-to-date before you become pregnant. Vaccinations include chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and tetanus. If you’re like me and hate injections, this list is really daunting. If you grew up in Australia, it’s likely you’ve already had vaccinations for most of these through high school programs. If your vaccinations were some time ago, you may need a single booster to charge up your immunity.
The whooping cough (pertussis) and flu (influenza) vaccines are most important during pregnancy so protection can be passed on to newborns. These vaccines are safe (and free through the Australian National Immunisation Program) for pregnant women. Whooping cough is recommended in the third trimester (around 28 weeks). The flu vaccine is usually available in April every year.
3. Dental Check
This one is not usually high on the priority list for women planning a pregnancy. Some dental procedures, such as root canal or wisdom teeth removal, and dental x-rays are usually avoided during pregnancy (if they are required then your dentist will take special care). If any issues are found before you become pregnant then the dentist will be able to treat it so it doesn’t become a problem during pregnancy.
Due to hormonal changes, the risk of gum disease and tooth decay increases during pregnancy. Your gums are more likely to bleed and they can become swollen and infected if you’re not careful. Morning sickness and increased sugar cravings during pregnancy can negatively affect teeth
4. Weight Check
For women, being overweight or underweight, can reduce your fertility. For men, obesity can reduce fertility. Your doctor will calculate you and your partner’s Body Mass Index (BMI) by taking your weight and height.
It’s important you keep a healthy BMI before and during your pregnancy. Overweight or obese women may experience complications during pregnancy and childbirth, such as high blood pressure, premature birth and gestational diabetes.
5. Management of Existing Medical Conditions or Medications
If you have a medical condition, your doctor will discuss any changes you can make to bring your condition under control before you’re pregnant.
Tell your doctor about any medications you take, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, herbal or vitamin supplements. For men, some medications can affect sperm quality or quantity. For women, some medications may not be safe to take during pregnancy and your doctor or specialist may suggest alternatives.