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Family Planning and Pre-Pregnancy Visits

If you want to have a baby, it is important to prepare for pregnancy, not simply stop birth control. The way each woman prepares will be different – some may need to change medications, others may need to stop smoking, while others may need to significantly increase their intake of folic acid.

Even if a woman is considered healthy, she should still schedule a consultation with her gynecologist to help ensure she and her baby will be as healthy as possible.

Preparing for pregnancy can take a few months or longer, so it is important to consult with your gynecologist prior to going off birth control.

At your consultation, your gynecologist will ask questions about your family health history and any medical conditions you or a family member may have had that could affect a pregnancy, as well as a series of questions related to your gynecologic health. If you currently have any medical issues, such as a sexually transmitted disease (STD), high blood pressure, diabetes or a thyroid disorder, these must be treated before you become pregnant.

Your gynecologist will review your medications with you. Since some can cause birth defects, it’s important to discuss everything you may take, including vitamins, over-the-counter medications and herbs. Your gynecologist will also review your vaccination history to determine if you need any shots prior to conception.

Folic acid can prevent birth defects of the brain and spine. However, it is important that you begin taking it during and before pregnancy. Your gynecologist will discuss how much you should take and when.

Your gynecologist will ask you questions about your lifestyle, such as those related to smoking, using drugs or drinking alcohol. Changing any negative lifestyle behaviors before becoming pregnant can often mean the difference between having a child who is born healthy and one who is not. If you are overweight/obese or underweight, you are at a higher risk for health issues and complications during pregnancy. Your gynecologist can recommend changes that can help you reach a healthy weight before becoming pregnant.

When you are trying to become pregnant, it is important to think about the environment where you live and work, too. Make sure you avoiding any toxins such as chemicals, sprays and fertilizers, as well as animal feces. These substances can damage your reproductive systems and make it more difficult to become pregnant. Your gynecologist will also ask questions about your emotional health, such as if you have ever felt depressed or anxious, as well as whether you have experienced physical or emotional abuse.

Growing your family is an important decision, so be sure to meet early with your gynecologist to make this as joyous an experience as possible.

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