Pre Conception Counselling

Overview

Preconception counseling is an appointment with your healthcare provider that’s used to plan for a future pregnancy. Your family history, risk factors, medical conditions and lifestyle are all discussed. This appointment is an important part of a planned and healthy pregnancy.

What is preconception counseling?

Having a safe, healthy and happy pregnancy begins well before you have a positive result on a test. Caring for your health before you become pregnant helps you prepare for a pregnancy. Preconception counseling is a visit with your healthcare provider where you discuss many aspects of pregnancy and plan for a healthy pregnancy.

Some of the topics you may discuss at a preconception visit are:

  • Reproductive history, including:
    • Prior pregnancies
    • Menstrual history
    • What types of birth control you’ve used
    • Any history of STDs or vaginal infections you have or have had
  • Personal medical history, including any surgeries you’ve had
  • Current medications, including vitamins and over-the-counter medications you take
  • Family health history
  • Your physical environment at home and at work
  • Your weight
  • Your lifestyle
    • Exercise
    • Diet
    • Alcohol intake
    • Caffeine intake
    • Any drugs you have used or currently use
    • Prenatal vitamins
  • Perform a physical exam to check your general health or a pelvic exam to check your reproductive health
  • Order lab tests to check for certain health conditions
  • Talk to you about how to determine when you’re ovulating and are most likely to get pregnant
  • Discuss your vaccination status and talk about necessary or recommended vaccines
  • Talk to you about genetic testing and its pros and cons

Developing a preconception plan

After your first preconception visit, you and your doctor will work together on a preconception plan that addresses your most likely risks. Pregnancy risks fall into the following categories:

SOCIAL

Social concerns during pregnancy include factors such as domestic violence. It’s important that you are and feel safe and secure during your pregnancy.

BEHAVIORAL

Behavioral risks include things like lifestyle choices, including smoking, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, consuming caffeine, and not getting adequate nutrition. Most behavioral risks can be addressed through behavior modification and lifestyle changes. Many doctors recommend addressing behavioral risks prior to becoming pregnant as they can put you and your baby at risk during pregnancy.

ENVIRONMENTAL

Environmental risks involve the places you live, work, or spend a lot of time. For example, you may work around chemicals or fumes that can endanger your baby or put your pregnancy at risk.

BIOMEDICAL

Biomedical risks are related to your body and general health. Examples of biomedical risks are:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Recurrent prior pregnancy loss
  • History of cancer
  • History of sexually transmitted disease

Preconception education and counseling

If you’re reading this page, your preconception education has already started. But it shouldn’t stop here. Talk with your doctor about making a preconception appointment when you can ask questions and address any concerns you have. The best time to start nurturing your baby is before he or she is even conceived. If your body and mind are healthy and prepared for pregnancy, your chances of having a healthy baby increase.

Your doctor will guide you to any education that may be important to you having a successful, healthy pregnancy. He or she will also work with you to address any social, behavioral, environmental, or biomedical risks that can be changed prior to conception. For example, if you are overweight and that weight could put you at risk for complications, your doctor will recommend that you get to a healthy weight before trying to conceive. And he or she will also guide you to resources to help you meet your weight loss goal.

Preconception counseling can be very effective at both helping you identify your risks and address them. For example, counseling may help you recognize that you have social risks and may help you find a way to minimize those risks before having a baby. Counseling can also help you tackle addictions that are leading to unhealthy choices, like excessive alcohol consumption or smoking.