The first thing you need to do is to go to your doctor for a pre-pregnancy consultation. The doctor will ask you about your lifestyle and any of the habits and behaviours which need to be modified in case you are planning to conceive. For example, you might have to give up smoking and alcohol as both of these are quite dangerous for you, your pregnancy and your baby. As a part of your pre-pregnancy consultation, your doctor will also advise you to have some basic laboratory tests like your complete blood count and urine complete examination as the baseline investigations. Your doctor will also carefully examine your past medical or obstetric history to determine and estimate any risks you may entail during your pregnancy. A history of your partner shall also be examined.
You will need some vaccinations done prior to your pregnancy. These include those for chicken pox and rubella if you are tested negative for your immune status against these diseases. Furthermore, you may also advise flu shots to protect you against flu during your pregnancy if it happens to be in the same season.
Sexually transmitted infections abbreviated as STIs are of particular importance if you are planning to conceive. They often predispose you or your partner to infertility if they remain unchecked and can also lead to complications during your pregnancy. Your doctor will assess your risk for STIs during your pre-pregnancy checkup by ordering some investigations. The problem with some of the STIs is that they often go unnoticed by those affected because they do not produce significant symptoms. Gonorrhea and chlamydial infections are particularly important in this regard. They keep damaging you till they are discovered incidentally. As such they can damage your reproductive organs to the extent of infertility. In case you conceive with these infections, you have chances of a premature delivery or your baby acquiring this infection from you. So it may be essential to test for these infections before-hand to avoid any complications for your pregnancy and your baby.
Other STIs include syphilis, Human Immune-deficiency virus (HIV) and viral hepatitis. They all have the potential to be transferred to your baby at birth and produce problems for him/her. For all of these diseases, an early intervention with antibiotics, vaccinations or immune globulins can drastically reduce the rate of complication for your baby.
Finally, you may also need genetic screening for some diseases, the risk of which comes on as a part of yours or your partner’s genetic make-up. Thalassemia is one of such diseases which is genetically acquired and can be predicted by screening for it at a pre-pregnancy stage. With advancements in genetic screening, tests are now also available for some very rare hereditary conditions and they help to avoid them and your doctor will order them for you in case he or she determines you fall in the high-risk group of being a carrier for these conditions.
So now that you have a fair idea of what pre-pregnancy checkup is and what importance it carries, it is advised that whenever you plan to get pregnant for the first time or you want to get off your birth controls, you should go for a pre-pregnancy checkup with your doctor having in mind what we have told you about it.
Feel free to ask any questions to your doctor and remove any apprehensions you might have in your mind before going for your big journey which will reward you with your little happiness in life!