This “preconception checklist” is a list of things you need to think about if you’re preparing to get pregnant. Most women don’t get pregnant right away, and it’s important to be aware of health issues that could get in the way of preparing for pregnancy.
Before Your Pregnancy: A 90-Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception by Amy Ogle and Lisa Mazzullo is a comprehensive guide to preparing to get pregnant and having a healthy baby. It’ll gently take you through all the possibilities – including infertility – and help you prepare for conception, pregnancy, and beyond.
The following preconception checklist is from Before Your Pregnancy. The “When You’re Preparing to Get Pregnant” tips towards the end of your article is from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
A Preconception Checklist – Questions Your Doctor Will Ask
Here’s a list of questions your doctor, gynecologist, or fertility doctor will ask about your health. The earlier you learn what to expect when you’re preparing to get pregnant, the easier it’ll be when you’re actually trying to conceive a baby.
Pap smears, periods, and menstrual cycle. Your last pap smear was _____(date), and your last complete physical exam was _____ (date). Your last menstrual period was _____(date). If your periods aren’t regular and you want to prepare for pregnancy, read Tips on How to Get Regular Periods.
Past medical history. The preconception checklist will likely have a list of health conditions that often affect women when they’re preparing to get pregnant. Do any of these conditions apply to you?
- Anemia, low iron, or high iron
- Chicken pox
- Crohn’s disease
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Eating disorder (bulimia, anorexia, binge eating)
- High blood pressure or heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Phenylketonuria (PKU)
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Sexually transmitted disease
- Thyroid problem
A full fertility checklist will explore these health issues in more detail, especially if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year.
Ethnic origin and family history of infertility. Some inherited diseases are more common among certain ethnicities. What is your ethnic origin and your partner’s ethnic origin? Did anyone in your family experience problems with infertility when they were preparing to get pregnant?
Biological family and relatives. A preconception checklist will ask questions about your family’s history of disease. Do your relatives have these diseases?
- Bleeding disorder (eg, hemophilia)
- Birth defects
- Mental retardation
- Sickle-cell disease
- Muscular dystrophy
- Cystic fibrosis
- Huntington’s chorea
Questions about immunizations or shots. When you’re preparing to get pregnant, you need to know what immunizations you’ve had. Here’s a list…
- Rubella (German measles)
- Flu shot
Prescription medications. All doctors will ask about your oral or topical prescription medications, whether or not you’re preparing to get pregnant. What prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or herbs are you taking?
Vitamin D deficiency. If you live in a northern climate, routinely wear sunscreen, or have dark pigmented skin, you are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. If your doctor doesn’t include this on the preconception checklist, ask how vitamin D affects your health and preparations to get pregnant. Don’t forget about the other vitamins – read How Vitamin B9 Affects Your Plans to Get Pregnant.
Birth control and past conception history. The doctor will want to know what method of birth control you use, and if you’ve been pregnant in the past. You may have to describe the circumstances surrounding your past miscarriages or abortions.
Environment. Where you live and work is very important when you’re planning a pregnancy. A preconception checklist will include questions about your physical surroundings and environment, such as:
- Do you work around chemicals, solvents, lead, or other potential hazards? (this is really important when you’re preparing to get pregnant!)
- Are you able to take the proper precautions when you’re around environmental hazards at home or work?
- Do you own a cat who uses a litter box at home? Who cleans it?
- Do you garden in areas where cats frequent?
- Do you smoke cigarettes?
- Do you use recreational drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, meth, or IV drugs?
- Do you drink alcohol, and will it be difficult to stop drinking?
The more the doctor knows about your environment, personal habits, and medical history, the better she’ll be able to help you prepare for pregnancy.
When You’re Preparing to Get Pregnant
Planning a pregnancy is exciting, but there are many things to consider before you conceive – and before the baby comes! If you prepare to get pregnant, you will increase your chances of having a healthy baby. Here are a few things to consider when you’re in the “preconception stage.”
Your Physical Health
You and your partner should visit your doctor before you become pregnant. Talk with your doctor about any medical conditions you or your partner may have. A history of your past pregnancies, including any problems, will be taken. Genetic counseling may be suggested. Tests for sexually transmitted infections and a Pap test may be done. The preconception checklist above will prepare you for the doctor’s visit.
Bring a list of any medicines that you are taking. Be sure to include any prescription, over the counter and herbal remedies you take.
- Do not take any over the counter medicines unless your doctor approves it.
- Some medicines may need to be changed before you become pregnant, such as heart, diabetic, seizure or medicines for blood clots. Talk with your doctor about changes for your medicines.
- Some medicines should be stopped before you become pregnant. When your preparing to get pregnant, check with your doctor about the medicines you take.
- Stop the medicine isotretinoin, sold as brand name Accutane.
- Stop the use of ibuprofen, sold as the brand Advil or Motrin.
- Stop the use of naproxen, sold by the brand Anaprox or Aleve.
- Avoid high doses of vitamins and dietary supplements.
- Avoid herbal remedies and other home remedies.
When you’re planning to get pregnant, take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid or a prenatal vitamin every day. The Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin is a very popular prenatal vitamin for women trying to get pregnant, and can help prevent some birth defects. Ask you pharmacist to help you find folic acid. Your doctor may recommend other vitamins and minerals before or during pregnancy.
Update your vaccines before becoming pregnant, using these guidelines:
- A Tdap booster if you have not had one in 10 years.
- Rubella vaccine if you are not immune to German measles. Avoid becoming pregnant for one month after getting this vaccine.
- Varicella vaccine if you have not had a chicken pox infection. Avoid becoming pregnant for one month after getting this vaccine.
Your doctor may recommend other vaccinations, such hepatitis B or flu, to protect your health when you’re preparing to get pregnant.
Make an appointment with your dentist to check, clean, and repair any problems with your teeth. Ask your dentist about proper care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy.
Nutrition and Healthy Eating
You and your partner should eat a well balanced diet. Try to achieve a normal weight before you get pregnant. Your doctor, nurse, or dietitian can talk with you about proper eating.
My prayer for you while you’re preparing to get pregnant is that everything goes smoothly, and you’re blessed with a healthy baby. May you enjoy the preconception stage, and may you and your partner develop a strong, close relationship before your baby comes.
If you have any thoughts on preparing to get pregnant or a preconception checklist, please share below. But remember that I’m not a doctor, and can’t offer medical advice.