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Preconception Medical Checklist

Before you become pregnant, you should ensure that your body is as healthy as possible. Although a preconception checkup won't guarantee that your pregnancy will be risk-free, it can minimize some of the potential complications.

Medical History and Exams

If you and your partner are considering pregnancy, you need to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your physician will start by asking you about your lifestyle habits, including diet, exercise, work environment, and any alcohol, drug or tobacco use. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, your physician will explain what effect this could have on a future pregnancy. Your doctor will want to know about any genetic defects or conditions that your family members have. He or she will also take your blood pressure, as women who suffer from high blood pressure have an increased risk of developing placental problems or preeclampsia.

A urinalysis will let your physician know if you have a urinary tract infection or diabetes. A blood test will look for any abnormalities such as sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, and whether you've been vaccinated for rubella. This test will also make sure that you don't have toxoplasmosis, which is contracted by handling cat feces or undercooked meat. Depending on your health history and ethnicity, your doctor will perform other tests as he or she sees fit. Your physician will probably recommend that you are inoculated against tetanus and hepatitis B.

A pelvic exam will be performed, to determine if your ovaries, cervix and uterus are working properly. Your doctor will rule out infections or fibroids, and do a Pap test to look for cervical problems or certain sexually transmitted diseases. If you have had an STD at some point, you should let your doctor know as certain STD's can be given to your baby through the placenta or during birth. Your physician will also take a blood sample to check for HIV or AIDS.

What You Can Do

Are you at a healthy weight? If you are overweight or underweight, now is the time to take control. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or do drugs, you need to stop before you become pregnant. Smoking has been linked to low birth weight babies and an increased risk of infant death, while alcohol and drugs can cause genetic defects, miscarriage or stillbirth. It can also be more difficult to quit these substances once you conceive, as you may be feeling anxious about your pregnancy.


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