If you’re thinking of having a baby, it’s best to discuss a few things with your doctor before you begin trying.
That’s because by the time you have a “missed period,” you will already be more than three weeks pregnant. Your baby will have already begun forming his or her vital organs, such as the heart. And between Weeks 2 and 8, your baby will be most sensitive to medications, certain exposures and your diet.
Some important things to review during a preconception physical include:
- Your health history: It is easier and makes for a healthier pregnancy to control things such as hypertension, diabetes and hypothyroidism prior to pregnancy. Knowing these risk factors will also help your doctor manage your pregnancy more effectively.
- The father’s health history: Some diseases — cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and many others — are inherited. Talk with your doctor to find out which tests are needed.
- Exposures you may have at work: Some dangers include radiation, heavy metals (lead or mercury), acids, some cleaning supplies, animals, viral illness, blood borne diseases, etc.
- Your diet: Let your doctor know if you have any dietary restrictions. Also, some foods may not be healthy during pregnancy — such as excessive amounts of fish or raw eggs.
- Exercise habits: The healthier you are, the easier your pregnancy and delivery can be. But too much exercise could make it harder to get pregnant, and overdoing it once you’re pregnant may be dangerous for the baby.
- Medications: Once you consider pregnancy it’s important to start taking a prenatal vitamin (with at least 0.4mg of folic acid) right away. Folic acid is important for spinal cord development (which occurs shortly after conception — usually before you even know you are pregnant). It is also important to review what medications you are on, as some of them may not be safe during the pregnancy.
- Risk factors: It is also important to review and modify any risk factors you may have: tobacco use, alcohol use, drug use, medical problems, exposure to cats, etc. Your age may also be considered a risk factor if you’re younger than 18 or older than 35.
Once you find out you’re pregnant, BE EXCITED. Then make an appointment with your doctor to start your prenatal care. Usually, you will want to see your doctor by week 6-8 of gestation.