Breanna Weisbrod, APRN, C.N.P.
When you are thinking about becoming pregnant, whether it's the first time or not, it's important to discuss your plans with your health care provider before you become pregnant. Traditional prenatal care once you are pregnant is not usually started until after 13 weeks. Therefore, ensuring you're healthy before trying to conceive is essential.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your provider about having a baby:
Am I healthy enough to have a baby?
Some medical diagnoses put mom and baby at higher risk and will require closer monitoring. Examples include seizures, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and thyroid disease. Your provider will help you make sure these conditions are well managed before you become pregnant. Being 35 and older also increases your risk.
If you or your partner have a family history of genetic disease, you may be sent to a genetic specialist to discuss possible screening tests for the disease.
A recent pregnancy or complications with previous pregnancies may mean your provider will follow you more closely or advise waiting to become pregnant until you have had a more thorough evaluation.
It also is important to be screened for infections you may not know you have. And you should confirm that you have been given all recommended vaccines. For example, some women who were vaccinated against rubella find that they no longer are immune. Babies born to a mom who was sick with rubella, especially in early pregnancy, are at greater risk for birth defects.
Are the medications and supplements I'm taking safe in pregnancy?
Prescribed and over-the-counter medications can be harmful to an unborn baby. There are only about 30 medications with proof that they are safe in pregnancy. Some medications also can affect your ability to become pregnant. Your provider can assist with stopping necessary medications, changing to an alternative medication and starting recommended medications, such as folic acid. The best time to do this is several months before becoming pregnant.
Will my current lifestyle provide a safe, comfortable environment for a newborn?
If you are employed, check to see if your place of work provides paid family medical leave after delivery. Learn about policies for time off as your child grows.
Make a list of people available to help you if you or your baby need it. Consider the potential need for help during pregnancy, such as when you are tired or nauseous, or if bedrest is recommended.
Consider the cost of having and raising a child. Babies can be expensive. From buying a package of diapers to covering day care, the costs add up quickly. Look into the prices of the essentials to know what to expect and start a budget.
Pregnancy rarely is perfect, but planning ahead can increase your chances for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Schedule a preconception appointment with your health care provider as soon as you begin thinking about becoming pregnant.