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home>>family>>pregnancy>>pre-pregnancy health check

Pre-pregnancy Health Check


Before you can even begin to think about having a baby you have to make sure that both you and your partner are at your healthiest. After all your body is going to be the baby's home for its first 9 months. So making that home as healthy as possible should be first on your agenda. You should take a year to prepare for your body and lifestyle to adapt to the changes. The first thing you should do is make an appointment to see your doctor who may advice you on a pre-pregnancy health checkup whether you have any health problems or not. Here is a list of the things that you will need to do to help you get your health into order before trying to conceive. You should also take note of these to help when having a checkup.

Medical history
Your doctor will ask you a series of questions regarding your health and lifestyle. It is always best to be prepared in advance. Here are a few things that you should let him know about.

Any medication that you or your partner are taking. Even some over the counter drugs can affect the developing baby, so telling your doctor about every medicine that you are taking is essential. The doctor might want to change some medications and stop some before trying to conceive.

Any serious or chronic diseases that you may have had diabetes, low or high blood pressure, heart disease, epilepsy. There might be need to change some medications before conceiving.

Genetic problems in your family such as Down`s syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

The type of contraception you are using. Remember with many contraception's such as the coil you will have to wait at least 2 months after removing it before you can begin to try to conceive.

Any problems that you have had in previous pregnancies, such as miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, premature birth or any complications that you may have had during labour.

Also let your doctor know if you have had any terminations.

Any menstruation problems that you have had.

Have you had an eating disorder?

Any sexual disease that you have had, such as Chlamydia which can make both men and women infertile.

Other things that you should inform your GP about are:

Your diet/eating patterns.
Any exercise program that you are currently doing.
Risks with lead at work or home.
Examinations

Your doctor will do a series of tests to make sure that your body is ready for pregnancy and make sure that you have no diseases that will prevent you from conceiving or that you don`t have any infections that can be passed on to your baby.

Internal examination
An internal examination may be carried out if you have had problems in the past with menstruation or a pelvic infection and if you have any infections or conditions they can be treated now to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.

Cervical smear test
It is important that you have a cervical smear test every three years. Check when you last had one and make an appointment if you are due one. Let your doctor know if you have had any abnormal cervical smear test in the past.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Both you and your partner should have complete tests for STDs, also an AIDS test. If you do have an STD you should let your doctor know immediately to start treatment to increase your chances of a successful pregnancy. You should always use a condom while one of you have an STD and should never try to conceive until you are completely clear of the disease.

Urinalysis
Urinalysis are taken to test for urinary tract infection (UTI). You may be asked for a urine sample so you can be checked for UTI so that it can be treated immediately. Avoid trying to conceive altogether if you have an UTI as it is associated with miscarriage, low-birth weight and premature labour.

Vaccinations
If you have not had rubella, it may be advisable to be vaccinated prior to becoming pregnant. If you do get vaccinated, you should delay trying to get pregnant for three months. You should not get vaccinated during pregnancy. If contracted during pregnancy, rubella can cause birth defects. Avoid eating undercooked meat or handling cat litter. These are known sources of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can seriously affect the fetus.

Blood test
A blood test will be done to test for anaemia and other abnormality in your blood. Once you have conceived your GP will continue to take blood tests throughout your pregnancy.

Blood pressure check
Pregnant women with high blood pressure (hypertension) are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia and have placental problems, so it's important to control high blood pressure before you conceive.

Genetic testing
If there is a history of genetic problems in either of your families you will be referred to have genetic testing done. The vast majority of babies are perfectly healthy only 2 to 3% are born with a major birth defect.

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