Patients often ask about whether they should meet with a physician prior to trying to conceive a child with their partner. Pre-conception counseling, where a patient and her doctor discuss various concerns before she attempts to become pregnant, is very important. During such counseling, the patient and her doctor will identify issues that could become aggravated if she successfully conceives, and will develop a plan to help her sustain a healthy pregnancy.
Because a woman’s gynecological health history can have major implications on both conceiving and sustaining a safe pregnancy, her doctor will evaluate how previous pregnancies, miscarriages, sexually transmitted diseases, surgeries, menstrual cycles and medications might impact a future pregnancy. The physician will also assess her family history because conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, blood clotting issues and other health concerns can create risks to the patient if she becomes pregnant. With so many factors affecting the success of a pregnancy, including age, allergies, body weight, body type, nutrition and pre-existing conditions, the woman’s physician will provide guidance on how best to manage these factors prior to conception and during pregnancy.
During this early counseling, the doctor may recommend certain blood tests to understand any potential risks in advance of the patient conceiving. Lifestyle adjustments such as quitting smoking, starting a regular exercise program, following a nutrition plan, or making changes to chronic medication use can also maximize the chances of a healthy pregnancy. For all these reasons, meeting with a general practitioner or OB/GYN is a recommended first step for a patient wishing to start or expand her family.
Dr. Michael Urig is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information, talk with your doctor, or call Urig’s Ahwatukee Foothills office at (480) 759-9191.